Student Reflections from Working in the Lab 2022-2023

Over the past year, the majority of the work that I have done for the lab is centered around our adjudication project. I have been combing through the arrest record data for the counties of central Illinois in an attempt to locate cases of human trafficking which may have been charged as a lesser statute. Because the charge of human trafficking requires proving fraud, force, and coercion, it is an extremely difficult charge to prove. As such, prosecutors will sometimes choose to charge the defendant with a lesser statute to ensure a conviction. While scrolling the arrest records, I have been looking for sex crimes, charges of kidnapping, or domestic violence. I have learned a great deal about the nature of crimes in central Illinois (more than one might like to know). For example, the amount of domestic violence cases in our area is astounding and tragic. Additionally, there is a much greater quantity of sex crimes than I had previously expected, specifically crimes against children. Though the work itself is quite dark and depressing, I remain hopeful knowing that our work could help bring victims stories to light as well as recognizing that human trafficking happens in our area. Gabby Watson

The work in the lab this year has greatly improved my coding ability, as the precise codes used in our framing assessment are indicative of codes for political research. I also feel that I have broadened my knowledge of human trafficking and truly grasped the concept in its totality. Analyzing arrest data was extremely useful in exemplifying some of the more discreet ways in which human trafficking can appear. I look forward to continuing to contribute to the lab. Jadon Cox

This first year of working in the Human Trafficking Research Lab was such an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. I learned a lot about what constitutes human trafficking, how to code and analyze data, and taking the minutes for meetings. The best part of working for the lab has been seeing things I've worked on get published and disseminated to the local anti-trafficking community. Especially the policy brief which was definitely the project I had to use my research and data analysis skills the most in order to get it ready for publication. Rhys Deiter

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