TUCSON, Ariz. — University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law is teaming up with three other law schools to support human trafficking survivors.
Innovation for Justice is a course at UA that focuses on finding solutions for issues in our communities and country.
"The graduate students working on this project come from five different disciplines on campus. I think that's really exciting because it gives us a chance to combine a lot of different backgrounds around the problem that touches a lot of spaces beside just civil, criminal or legal services," said Butler.
According to the National Trafficking Hotline, Arizona was 10th in the nation for reported cases in 2017. But for every reported case of trafficking, there's an unknown number of cases that go unheard.
"So we don't really know how big of an issue this is for Arizona, but for us to be in a top 10 list, in terms of reported cases, definitely indicates that trafficking is happening here in our community and that it is a serious problem," said Stacy Butler, the Innovation for Justice program director.
Students and faculty from the law schools at UA, University of San Diego, Duke University, and Harvard are partnering to research and develop community resources to support human trafficking survivors. Each university involved is located in a state with high rates of human trafficking.
"Those are four very different places but we expect that there are some commonalities in terms of both the problems and what viable solutions might look like," said Butler.
But part of the design of the project is that the groups go in without a solution in mind. They will instead form solutions based off the research and suggestions made from talking with survivors and the communities that support them.
"This is a community-engaged course. So we have a lot of people in the community who will be working with the students, sharing their experiences, and their perspectives. By the end of the semester, we hope to be able to generate some new tool or resource that can be used both within our community and beyond our community," said Butler.
This is the same course that developed 'Hello Landlord,' an online deescalation tool that helps tenants communicate issues or concerns to their landlords to prevent eviction.