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ASU helping probation officers pinpoint sex-trafficking victims

PHOENIX — A new sex-trafficking study could help Maricopa County’s probation system identify victims and offenders.

Researchers from Arizona State University’s Office of Sex Trafficking Intervention Research worked with Maricopa County adult probation officers in November, discussing caseloads and how to identify victims or offenders of sex trafficking.

“Right now there’s no flag or any way to know if someone has been trafficked unless they answer questions and they might not let you know,” said Dominique Roe-Sepowitz, director of ASU’s sex-trafficking office.

Researchers also provided almost 200 probation officers with four hours of training on sex trafficking, Roe-Sepowitz said.

“We had survivors come and speak, and then we surveyed them,” she said.

Roe-Sepowitz said more than half of the officers were able to begin identifying victims and offenders already in their caseloads.

“Currently (victims) are not getting any sex-trafficking specific programming because they hadn’t been identified before,” she said.

“So this is a really important number for us to base any recommendations and for the department to now develop interventions to address their client’s needs.”

The study was part of a series of studies researching sex trafficking and was funded by the McCain Institute for International Leadership.

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