BJS Statistics Show Total Human Trafficking Offenses Reported By States Dipped in 2020

November 15, 2021

By a Biometrica staffer

Last month, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) released its 2021 report on data collection activities in the realm of human trafficking covering the number of offenses reported, as well as arrest, conviction, and release data from states. The BJS is unable to provide real-time data and tracking, so the latest figures available for analysis are from 2020. 

The figures show that the number of arrests reported for human trafficking involving involuntary servitude was at 92 in 2020, compared to the 146 in 2019 and the 66 in 2015. Meanwhile, reported arrests for human trafficking involving commercial sex acts numbered 301 in 2020, 880 in 2016, and 684 in 2015.

Image source: The Bureau of Justice Statistics
Image source: The Bureau of Justice Statistics

The BJS is required to report annually on the state of human trafficking within the U.S. as per the Combat Human Trafficking Act of 2015 (CHTA). Separately, the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 mandates that the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) also track such crimes. The Bureau accordingly established a human trafficking arm in its Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program in 2013.

In the five-year span between 2015 and 2020, 10 more states began reporting data to the UCR-HT, up to 47 from the previous 37. Data collected by the UCR-HT is broken down into commercial sex acts, which includes a person being forced or coerced into participating in sex work, as well as underage victims being prostituted, and involuntary servitude, in which a person is forced or coerced into working for free (not including commercial sex acts), such as debt bondage or slavery.

Between 2011 and 2019, the number of people charged with human trafficking rose 79%, while the number convicted increased 80% and the number sentenced to prison increased 82%. Around 614 of all the state prison admissions from the 32 states that reported at least one such offense in 2019 were for human trafficking. Further, as of 2019, 1,675 people were serving a sentence for a human-trafficking offense in state prison and 421 people were released after serving their sentence.

Image source: The Bureau of Justice Statistics