Home Human Trafficking When Law and Justice Succeed: Trafficked Victims Offered Diversion in Ohio

When Law and Justice Succeed: Trafficked Victims Offered Diversion in Ohio


By Dr. Christi Scott Bartman Associate Professor, Public Administration at American Public University

Much has happened in Ohio to put an end to human trafficking since my previous post, “When Law and Justice Collide.” At that point HB 262, (the Safe Harbor Act) had recently passed. As of June 2014, Ohio passed HB 130, (the End Demand Act), which focuses on the “johns” and ending demand for prostitution, therefore ending the demand for sex trafficking. Another area that has made impressive progress is the CATCH (Changing Actions to Change Habits) Court.

CATCH was initiated in Ohio by Franklin County Municipal Court Judge Paul Herbert. Judge Herbert realized that many of the defendants accused of prostitution before him exhibited signs of domestic violence and appeared to be coerced into prostitution–making them victims and not criminals. He investigated the grim statistics on human trafficking and felt the need to offer the women support instead of condemnation. I can only describe the process from this point as transformative.

courtI walked into his court, fully expecting the familiar proceedings I have witnessed in the past. The first thing I noticed was that there were no men, except the judge. These women had such bad experiences with men that to allow them in the courtroom would be too traumatic. I made my way through a crowd of women seated along the outside of the court. I found out later that these were the advocates representing the many nonprofit agencies and services that supported these women.

Within the court was another ring of women who were in the program already. They were there to offer support and advice to the woman before the judge that day. The judge was announced—but instead of going straight to the bench—he walked over to a chalkboard and addressed the women in the program. He talked about concepts such as habits and how they influence actions. He had an amazingly casual and supportive air.

He then moved behind the bench and the proceedings took a more familiar turn. The victim was brought before the court. Judge Herbert read the charges and addressed the legal formalities. He then offered her the option of a diversion. If she stayed clean for two years, left the influences she was currently under, and attended mandatory counseling services, she could have her record expunged. Once she agreed, the procedure went from adjudication to support group.

The judge asked the victim to turn around and address the women and read a statement she had prepared. The day I was there, the victim read a poem and there was hardly a dry eye in the place. The women in the program were then asked to comment and one-by-one they stood and offered positive advice and counsel. The newest “sister” was then accepted into a program that would neither judge nor condemn her but give her as much support as she would accept.

For a similar success in New York, see the recent blog post by AMU Professor Michelle Beshears. AMU, in collaboration with the International Police Training Institute, will host the second annual International Summit on Combating Human Trafficking Nov. 17 -20, 2014.

About the Author: Dr. Christi Scott Bartman holds a Master of Public Administration from Troy State University, a JD from the University of Toledo College of Law, and a Ph.D. in Policy History from Bowling Green State University. She is currently an Associate Professor of Public Administration at APU. She serves on the Legal and Legislative Subcommittee on Human Trafficking in Ohio.


Roots In The Military. Relevant To All.

American Military University (AMU) is proud to be the #1 provider of higher education to the U.S. military, based on FY 2018 DoD tuition assistance data, as reported by Military Times, 2019. At AMU, you’ll find instructors who are former leaders in the military, national security, and the public sector who bring their field-tested skills and strategies into the online classroom. And we work to keep our curriculum and content relevant to help you stay ahead of industry trends. Join the 64,000 U.S. military men and women earning degrees at American Military University.

Request Information

Please complete this form and we’ll contact you with more information about AMU. All fields except phone are required.

Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Validation message here
Ready to apply? Start your application today.

We value your privacy.

By submitting this form, you agree to receive emails, texts, and phone calls and messages from American Public University System, Inc. which includes American Military University (AMU) and American Public University (APU), its affiliates, and representatives. I understand that this consent is not a condition of enrollment or purchase.

You may withdraw your consent at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy, terms, or contact us for more details.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *