Polaris Project has been tracking and ranking all 50 states plus the District of Columbia in one of four teirs based each states laws to combat modern slavery since 2007. The ratings are "based on 10 categories of laws that are critical to basic legal framework that combats human trafficking, punishes traffickers and supports survivors." In 2004, only four states had laws to combat modern slavery. However in 2012, 48 states plus District of Columbia now have some type of new laws. Mary Ellison, Polaris Project's Director of Policy, stated that "...over the past year, 28 states, or 55 percent of the states, have passed new human trafficking laws."
- Teir 1 (7+ points): States has passed significant laws to combat human trafficking, and should continue to take steps to improve and implement its laws.
- Teir 2 (5-6): State has passed numerous laws to combat human trafficking, and should take more steps to improve and implement its laws.
- Teir 3 (3-4): State has made nominal efforts to pass laws to combat human trafficking, and should take major steps to improve and implement its laws.
- Teir 4 (0-2): These "Faltering Four" states have not made nominal efforts to enact a basic legal framework to combat human trafficking, and should actively work to improve their laws.
Massachusetts earned the 'most improved' distinction on the Polaris Projects 2012 State Ratings on Human Trafficking laws, for enacting a comprehensive anti-Modern slavery law in November 2011. The new ranking moved the state from the bottom teir in 2011 to the top teir in 2012. In reponse to the improved ranking Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley stated that, "Massachusetts has taken major steps to combat the egregious crime of human trafficking, and we are pleased that this report recognizes those efforts."
South Carolina, West Virginia and Ohio were also rated 'most improved' for taking concrete steps to address modern slavery. Meanwhile, Wyoming, Arkansan, Montana and South Dakota were included in the bottom teir for minimal effort to pass legislation. Wyoming, according to the report, is the only state that has failed to pass any robust laws against modern slavery at the state level.
While states like Washington (11 pts) and Massachusetts (10 pts) are clearly at the top of the list, every state can -and should- do more to improve and implement anti-modern slavery laws. It is necessary to have strong anti-modern slavery laws to not only increase prosecutions to punish and hold traffickers accountable, but to also provide local support to the survivors. Bridge to Freedom Foundation plays a critical role in helping the survivors transit from "survivng to thriving".
Check how your state rates on human trafficking laws in 2012