Reflections from working in the HTRL

The Human Trafficking Research Lab at Millikin University has been working on a project that is expected to shine the light on human trafficking adjudication in the region of central Illinois. For the past three semesters my duty working in that lab was to analyze arrest data from counties assigned to detect crimes that could have been charged as human trafficking or fall under trafficking category. The past three semesters I analyzed three counties Morgan County, Macon County, and Rock island County. These three counties were not any different to each other. Most offenses committed that could fall under the category of human trafficking were from prostitution, child pornography, and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. This research process involved using a search toolbar to run all the coded crimes and record them into an excel document. As expected in these three counties Morgan only less than one percent of the arrests made were labeled human trafficking while the other 99 percent were identified as different crimes. This lack of human trafficking crime identification might prevent victims of human trafficking to come forward. They are a lot flaws in the system as mentioned earlier, having lower statutes that punish other crimes instead of trafficking result into crimes going unpunished. This research does a great job to help solve the issue by tracking those cases and making sure they were properly identified. 

Embarking this journey of working with the human trafficking research lab at Millikin University is one of the most successful learning experience in my collegiate career. Working in the lab became more than just a task, I started being exposed to all sorts of opportunities that I would have never had if it wasn’t for this work. This spring semester the human trafficking lab was delighted to present our research at the Midwest Political Science Association conference in Chicago. This conference was a good platform to present our research and get feedback from other researchers, these insights helps the lab to be more productive by expanding our methodologies. Also while working in human trafficking lab I was presented the opportunity to read the declaration of human trafficking awareness month of 2022 at the city council meeting. This was a perfect opportunity to teach Decatur residents on the crimes of human trafficking that are relevant in their community, and how these crimes could be stopped. My favorite experience working in this research lab was being able to present our research at the Celebration of Scholarship day at Millikin University. Celebrations of Scholarship is the day where all students present their research is an important day. I was honored to represent the HTRL presenting the poster of our paper the Adjudication of Human Trafficking in Central Illinois. This was a wonderful experience, because our poster won first place in the The Judith & G. Richard Locke Poster Symposium competition. This is a significant achievement in my opinion because it shows that the judges valued the work that the lab is doing. The success of this HTRL could be attributed the hard working advisor who advises its activities on a day-to-day basis. Dr. Laura Dean put a lot of effort into ensuring that students have the best experience while learning at the same time. The work from this research is something I am hoping to build on in my future career.



Aimable Ngabo Millikin University Class of 2022

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