Each year, the Polaris Project releases a state-level report card that ranks states based on their legislative efforts to enact statutes viewed as critical pieces of any comprehensive anti-trafficking legal framework. This year, Massachusetts is one of the “Nine Lagging Behind.”
The nine states in question—including Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Wyoming—either have “failed to enact basic human trafficking provisions in their laws or have [established] provisions that fail to adequately address the growing crime.” While it does not claim to assess the effectiveness of local anti-trafficking efforts, the report raises concerns that observed legal gaps may be symptoms of serious policy blind spots that could compromise the design and implementation of statewide anti-trafficking interventions.
To their credit, both the House and Senate have answered Attorney General Martha Coakley’s call and passed versions of an anti-trafficking bill. Yet, the two are currently being reconciled in committee, and no bill has been signed into law.
Though some may criticize both House and Senate bills as flawed and though debates appear to be limited to sex trafficking at the expense of labor trafficking considerations, Massachusetts legislators certainly understand that action must be taken.