Responding to Child Victims of Human Trafficking - Arkansas

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State Agency Responsibilities

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 9-27-323; 12-19-103

The Department of Human Services shall develop a statewide referral protocol for helping to coordinate the delivery of services to sexually exploited children.

As used in this section, 'sexually exploited child' means a person younger than age 18 who has been subject to sexual exploitation because the person:

  • Is a victim of trafficking of persons under § 5-18-103
  • Is a victim of child sex trafficking under 18 U.S.C. § 1591
  • Engages in an act of prostitution under § 5-70-102 or sexual solicitation under § 5-70-103

The department shall develop a State protocol for assisting victims of human trafficking with applying for Federal and State benefits and services to which they may be entitled.

Legislative notes, Acts 2013, No. 1257: The legislature finds the following:

  • The criminal justice system is not the appropriate place for sexually exploited children because it serves to retraumatize them and to increase their feelings of low self-esteem.
  • Both Federal and international law recognize that sexually exploited children are the victims of crime and should be treated as such.
  • Sexually exploited children should, when possible, be diverted into services that address the needs of these children outside of the justice system.
  • Sexually exploited children deserve the protection of child welfare services, including diversion, crisis intervention, counseling, and emergency housing services.

The intent of this act is to protect a child from further victimization after the child is discovered to be a sexually exploited child by ensuring that a child protective response is in place in the State. This is to be accomplished by presuming that any child engaged in prostitution or solicitation is a victim of sex trafficking and providing these children with the appropriate care and services when possible.

In determining the need for and capacity of services that may be provided, the department shall recognize that sexually exploited children have separate and distinct service needs according to gender, and every effort should be made to ensure that these children are not prosecuted or treated as juvenile delinquents but instead are given the appropriate social services.

Training Requirement

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 12-18-1202; 12-19-101; 6-17-710

The Arkansas Juvenile Officers Association, the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy, or the Prosecutor Coordinator may provide training to intake officers, law enforcement, prosecutors, and any other appropriate staff concerning how to identify a sexually exploited child and how to obtain appropriate services for a sexually exploited child.

The State Task Force for the Prevention of Human Trafficking shall do the following:

  • Establish policies to enable the State government to work with nongovernmental organizations and other elements of the private sector to prevent human trafficking and provide assistance to victims of human trafficking who are U.S. citizens or foreign nationals
  • Evaluate various approaches used by State and local governments to increase public awareness of human trafficking, including trafficking of U.S. citizens and foreign national victims
  • Develop curriculum and train law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, public defenders, judges, and others involved in the criminal and juvenile justice systems on the following:
    • Offenses under the Arkansas Human Trafficking Act of 2013, § 5-18-101, et seq.
    • Methods used in identifying victims of human trafficking who are U.S. citizens or foreign nationals, including preliminary interview techniques and appropriate questioning methods
    • Methods for prosecuting human traffickers
    • Methods of increasing effective collaboration with nongovernmental organizations and other relevant social service organizations in the course of investigating and prosecuting a human trafficking case
    • Methods for protecting the rights of victims of human trafficking, taking into account the need to consider human rights and special needs of women and minors
    • The necessity of treating victims of human trafficking as crime victims rather than criminals
    • Methods for promoting the safety of victims of human trafficking

Each year, a school district shall make available to licensed personnel 30 minutes of professional development on the following:

  • Recognizing the warning signs that a child is a victim of human trafficking
  • Reporting a suspicion that a child is a victim of human trafficking

The professional development shall be developed and administered by the Department of Education or another person, firm, or corporation designated by the department.

Diversion From Prosecution

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-27-323

If the prosecuting attorney, after consultation with the intake officer, determines that a diversion of a delinquency case is in the best interests of the juvenile and the community, the officer, with the consent of the juvenile and their parent, guardian, or custodian, may attempt to make a satisfactory diversion of a case.

If the intake officer determines that a diversion of a family-in-need-of-services case is in the best interests of the juvenile and the community, the officer, with the consent of the petitioner, juvenile, and their parent, guardian, or custodian, may attempt to make a satisfactory diversion of a case.

A diversion of a case is subject to the following conditions:

  • The juvenile has admitted their involvement in either of the following:
    • A delinquent act for a delinquency diversion
    • A family-in-need-of-services act for a family-in-need-of-services diversion
  • The intake officer advises the juvenile and their parent, guardian, or custodian that they have the right to refuse a diversion of the case and demand the filing of a petition and a formal adjudication.
  • Any diversion agreement shall be entered into voluntarily and intelligently by the juvenile with the advice of their attorney or by the juvenile with the consent of a parent, guardian, or custodian if the juvenile is not represented by counsel.
  • The diversion agreement shall provide for the supervision of a juvenile or the referral of the juvenile to a public or private agency for services not to exceed 6 months.
  • All other terms of a diversion agreement shall not exceed 9 months.
  • The juvenile and their parent, guardian, or custodian shall have the right to terminate the diversion agreement at any time and to request the filing of a petition and a formal adjudication.

Diversion agreements shall be limited to providing for any of the following:

  • Nonjudicial probation under the supervision of the intake officer or probation officer for a period during which the juvenile may be required to comply with specified conditions concerning their conduct and activities
  • Participation in a court-approved program of education, counseling, or treatment
  • Participation in a court-approved teen court
  • Participation in a juvenile drug court program
  • Enrollment in the regional educational career alternative school

The diversion agreement may be terminated, and the prosecuting attorney in a delinquency case or the petitioner in a family-in-need-of-services case may file a petition if at any time during the agreement period the following occurs:

  • The juvenile or their parent, guardian, or custodian declines to further participate in the diversion process.
  • The juvenile fails, without reasonable excuse, to attend a scheduled conference.
  • The juvenile appears unable or unwilling to benefit from the diversion process.
  • The intake officer becomes apprised of new or additional information that indicates that further efforts at diversion would not be in the best interests of the juvenile or society.

Upon the satisfactory completion of the diversion period:

  • The juvenile shall be dismissed without further proceedings.
  • The intake officer shall furnish written notice of the dismissal to the juvenile and his or her parent, guardian, or custodian.
  • The complaint and the agreement, and all references thereto, may be expunged by the court from the juvenile's file.

Services and Supports for Victims

Citation: Ann. Code § 19-5-1252

The department shall use the funds from the Safe Harbor Fund to provide services and treatment, including residential housing, health services, and social services, for sexually exploited children.

Support for Anti-Trafficking Efforts

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 19-5-1252; 19-5-1261

The State treasurer, auditor, and chief fiscal officer shall create a fund to be known as the 'Safe Harbor Fund for Sexually Exploited Children.' The fund shall consist of fines collected under §§ 5-18-103(d), 5-70-102(d), and 5-70-103(d) and any other revenues authorized by law. The fund shall be administered by the Department of Human Services.

There is created on the books of the State treasurer, the State auditor, and the State chief fiscal officer a fund to be known as the 'Human Trafficking Victim Support Fund.' The fund shall be administered by the attorney general. The attorney general shall use the fund to provide for the following:

  • Grants to nonprofit, religious, and other third-party organizations that provide services and treatment, such as securing residential housing, health services, and social services for victims of human trafficking
  • The management and operation of the fund