Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation may have abolished slavery in the United States one hundred and fifty years ago, but slavery has by no means vanished from today’s world. Earlier this month, in their Trafficking in Persons report, the U.S. State Department estimated that there are currently about 20.9 million human trafficking victims. According to the State Department, labor exploitation is the largest source of slavery with an estimated 14,200,000 current victims. Sexual exploitation comes second with 4,500,000 victims, and state-imposed labor falls last with 2,200,000 victims. Of all these victims, government agencies and NGOs only managed to free 42,000 slaves in 2011.
State Department Human Trafficking Statistics
The State Department defines human trafficking as “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.” Individuals do not need to have been relocated—forced prostitution is one form of slavery. Estimations of human trafficking victims differ, however, based on the definition. While the State Department defines human trafficking more broadly and thus has a higher estimation, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that there are currently 2.4 million human trafficking victims. About 80% of them are victims of the sex slave trade.
How do we approach ending a global crisis like human trafficking? M. Cherif Bassiouni, a professor emeritus at DePaul University in Chicago, emphasizes the need to reassess the way we approach human trafficking. According to Bassiouni, we need to criminalize all people involved in the supply side as well as those on the demand side. Additionally, we need to re-prioritize human trafficking, which, he claims, suffers at the hands of male-dominated police forces all over the world. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton remarked upon visiting a trafficking shelter while in Kolkata, India:
The young women and girls there had suffered terrible abuse. But with their own drive and determination and with the help of some remarkable women and men they were getting their lives back on track…I met one girl, about ten years old, who asked if I wanted to see the martial arts she had learned at the shelter. As she performed her routine, I was impressed with the skills she had learned; but more than that, I was moved by the pride in her eyes – her sense of accomplishment and strength.
Empowering women everywhere will be a major victory against human trafficking, whether through shelters, therapy, or education. In the case of sex slavery, we must be receptive of the victims and treat them as such: victims, not criminals. An anonymous sex victim told her trafficker at his sentencing, “I walk around and carry the physical scars of the torture you put me through. The cigarette burns, the knife carvings, the piercings … how a human being can see humor in the torture, manipulation, and brainwashing of another human being is beyond comprehension. You have given me a life sentence.”
San Francisco Giant Brandon Belt at bat
for Not For Sale’s Free2Play initiative
Outside of the government, other organizations exist to combat this scourge. Not For Sale is a Californian non-profit that provides ways to combat human trafficking through groups, apps, and information. Its app Free2Work scans barcodes to reveal how worker-friendly your favorite brands are. Partnered with Major League Baseball, their Free2Play app pledges donations for baseball statistics. San Francisco Giants pitcher Jeremy Affeldt, recipient of the Roberto Clemente Award for outstanding community dedication and baseball performance, promised $250 for every strike he pitches during the season. In a heartening display of solidarity, Giants first baseman Brandon Belt apologized to Not For Sale President Dave Batstone on June 18th for failing to hit any home-runs so far this season, after having pledge a donation for each one hit. Belt quickly turned his luck around, however, and hit three home runs in three games.
Dave Batstone, President of Not For Sale, on Eye to Eye with Katie Couric, discussing his book, Not For Sale
Dave Batstone, President of Not For Sale, created the organization when he discovered that one of his favorite Indian restaurants forced immigrant children into labor and made them live in deadly, unventilated apartments. When a woman forced to work in the restaurant died from a gas-leak in the apartment, Batstone snapped to attention. Shocked to learn that slavery existed right around the corner of him, Batstone dedicated his life to exposing it and ending it everywhere through Not For Sale.
Humantrafficking.org is another non-profit fighting modern human slavery. It combines non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and government information and resources to expedite human trafficking’s elimination in Asia and the Pacific. With an extensive online database of laws, action-plans, and contact information, Humantrafficking.org is an excellent resource to learn more about country-specific slavery.
Government organizations like the State Department and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and NGOs like Not For Sale and Humantrafficking.org have completed a lot of good work towards the eradication of slavery, but it is not enough. With over twenty million people worldwide still imprisoned, the work is far from over.
In March 2012, a videographer caught on tape several Chicago police officers arresting two journalists for taking photos in a public place. One police officer yelled at the journalists, “Your First Amendment rights can be terminated.” Are they right?
The incident in March is only one of many in a long string of clashes between police officers, journalists, and so-called “citizen journalists.” The National Press Photographers Association claims to have documented seventy unwarranted journalist arrests since September. Most recently, in early June, Jennifer Gondola used her smartphone to film a police officer arresting a man outside of a New Haven, CT nightclub. The police officer in charge consequently confiscated her phone and charged her with interfering with a police officer. Civil rights lawyers side with Gondola, claiming she was fully within both her First and Fourth Amendment rights, protecting her freedom of speech and her property from unreasonable search and seizure. In fact, the New Haven police have a policy that sides with Gondola, permitting “video recording of police activity as long as such recording does not interfere with ongoing police activity or jeopardize the safety of the general public or police.” Civil rights lawyers have criticized the use of “interfering with the police” and “breaching of the peace” as arrest charges to cover-up police violations.
The ubiquity of smartphones and other recording devices has only exacerbated the traditional tension between police and journalists. Today, over half of all adults own a smartphone, and the growing number of incidents between police and “journalists” has jumped accordingly. In one case in Connecticut, in response to a man recording an arrest, a police officer shouted at him “You don’t take pictures of us,” before snatching the phone from the man’s hands. In another case, Assistant Chief Ariel Melendez arrested a 26-year-old man named Luis Luna for videotaping the police breaking up a fight. Melendez then took his phone and erased the video. Luna is a member of Copwatch New Haven, an organization founded to prevent and publicize police brutality.
Luis Luna, 26, and the confiscated device
While many people argue that filming is the only way to keep police officers honest, John DeCarlo, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of New Haven, disagrees. DeCarlo asserts “It doesn’t take a video to keep police officers honest, the vast majority of them already are…I think that 99.9 percent of officers in this country have absolutely no concern about being filmed.” Nonetheless, police officers need to be more aware of citizens’ rights in these situations. In August 2011, the First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down a decision that defended the “self-evident” right to record in public and explained that police officers must expect to be recorded while on duty in public. If any of these cases go to court, the First Amendment and the American judicial system stand clearly in their favor. That is the problem, though, if they go to court. A majority of these cases are too expensive and minor to go through the trouble of bringing them in front of judge. In the case of Luis Luna, he was forced to plead guilty because pleading innocent would have cost too much money. A Boston judge dismissed a 2007 case where Boston police arrested a man videotaping an arrest of a homeless man, but then the man, Simon Glik, brought a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Boston. Glik won his case—five years later. In 2011 Glik received $170,000 in settlement, a majority of which went towards legal fees.
The answer to the title question may be legally, no, your First Amendment rights are not jeopardized, but practically? That’s a gray area.
What do John Dillinger, the Anglin Brothers, Frank Morris, Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., Ted Bundy and the Texas Seven have in common? Other their infamous crimes, they have all escaped jail. Believe it or not, many prisoners escape every year. Approximately 3% of all inmates escape at some point during their prison term. Almost all these escapes (89%) are made from minimum security facilities. In fact, for every 11.2 prisoners, there are only 2 guards. A low ratio of guards to prisoners can encourage more escapes. But prisons have trouble attracting guards; pay can be less than $20,000 a year. The turnover rate is over 25% nationally.
Centuries ago when forensic science was not an established application to police investigations, eyewitness testimonies were the go-to method for collecting the facts of the crime. Nowadays, eyewitness accounts are not reliable for many reasons, one being that police may lead, intentionally or unintentionally, eyewitnesses towards a certain suspect. An honest and thorough procedure of the visual account needs to be encouraged amongst investigators.
For this reason, the House of Representatives passed a bill on May 1 changing police conduct during criminal lineups to improve eyewitness reliability. The bill is based on scientific studies done on how to improve the criminal lineup process.
During a typical criminal lineup process, either done with a one-way mirror or in a book of photographs, a suspect along with “fillers” are presented to the eyewitness.
Scientific studies were done to improve the eyewitness reliability. The modifications include using a sequential lineup which is when the eyewitness will look at one picture at a time. This reduces the number of times an eyewitness would incorrectly identify by 22%.
At this point, the bill will be reviewed by the Senate.
After the death of Osama bin Laden in May 2011 and the capture of James “Whitney” Bulger in June 2011, two spots opened up on the FBI’s ten most wanted list. On April 10, 2012 Eric Justin Toth replaced Osama bin Laden and became the 495h fugitive to be placed on the list.
The FBI’s most wanted list was started March 14, 1950 due to the wide public interest in a news story published in 1949 about the “toughest guys” the FBI was after. The purpose of the list is to capture dangerous terrorist and fugitives. Since its inception nearly 60 years ago, 465 of the 495 people have either been found or captured. Of these 465, nearly one third was due to recognition by someone in the public.
So how does someone get on the FBI’s most wanted list? It begins with a spot opening on the list. A group of wanted criminal candidates are sent to the FBI Headquarters from all 56 FBI field offices. The criminal candidates are reviewed by the Criminal Investigative Division (CID) and the office of Public Affairs. The chosen criminals are sent the assistant director of the CID and finally to the FBI director for final approval.
The 495th spot was given to Eric Justin Toth, who also uses the alias David Bussone. Toth, a former private school teacher, is charged with possession and production of child pornography. Before an investigation could begin after pornographic images were found on a school camera he had been using, Toth was gone. He has been on the lam since June 2008 and his whereabouts are currently unknown.
In 2008 his car was found at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International airport in Minnesota. Although it was suspected that Toth committed suicide at a nearby lake based on a suicide note left in his vehicle, a body was never found. Over the past four years, it is believed that Toth traveled across Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.
Toth was selected because of the threat he posed to the community. Not only is he a child predator but he is an individual who is able to gain the trust of children and adults. Prior to be put on the list, he was on the Washington field office’s list and was also featured on America’s Most Wanted. A tip was received in 2009 after the broadcast about a man living in a homeless shelter in Arizona that looked like, and was later confirmed to be Toth. He has since then disappeared.
A $100,000 reward is being offered by the FBI for anyone who has information that could lead to Toth’s arrest. If captured, Toth faces up to 30 years in prison.
Check out our entry about James Bulger, who was on the FBI’s Most Wanted list until his recent capture