2014 State Ratings on Human Trafficking Laws

Polaris has rated all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 10 categories of laws that are critical to a basic legal framework that combats human trafficking, punishes traffickers and supports survivors.

  • 37 states passed new laws to fight human trafficking in the past year
  • As of July 31, 2014, 39 states are now rated in Tier 1 (7+ points), up from 32 states in 2013
  • 12 states have failed to make minimal efforts to pass laws that support victims.
  • Delaware, New Jersey, and Washington have perfect scores, meaning they have laws fulfilling all 10 categories
  • 5 states were most improved this year: Delaware, New Hampshire, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Utah


     Download PDF version

     Download "A Look Back:
     Building a Human Trafficking
     Legal Framework"

     Read the press release

     Download individual state






2014SRM gif

A Look Back: Building a Human Trafficking Legal Framework

For the last four years, Polaris has rated all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on 10 categories of laws that are critical to establishing a basic legal framework to effectively combat human trafficking, punish traffickers, and support survivors. In the final year of our State Ratings on Human Trafficking Laws, the following analysis highlights the tremendous improvement and innovation during this time. Yet, while criminal statutes have been enacted across the United States, there is still a significant absence of laws to assist and protect victims of human trafficking. In addition, the passage of dozens of new laws now requires that states work to provide proper funding and support to ensure that these laws can be effectively implemented.

Download the full report.


State Ratings Category Descriptions: 
Sex Trafficking   


  Sex Trafficking: A statute that criminalizes sex trafficking and includes elements of inducing another through force, fraud, or coercion to engage in a commercial sex act. Some states have related laws in the prostitution code and were given credit if they had the same criminal elements.
Labor Trafficking    2.   Labor Trafficking: A statute that creates the crime of labor trafficking or trafficking in persons, in which a person is compelled through force, fraud, or coercion into providing labor or services.
Asset Forfeiture and Investigative Tools    3.   (a) Asset Forfeiture for Human Trafficking: A statute that provides for the forfeiture of assets used in the course of the crime or acquired with proceeds from the crime of human trafficking.
(b) Investigative Tools for Law Enforcement:A statute that amends existing Racketeering (RICO) statutes to include the crime of human trafficking or authorizes the use of wiretapping by law enforcement in human trafficking investigations.

Training and Task Forces-black   4.   (a) Training on Human Trafficking for Law Enforcement: A statute that mandates or encourages law enforcement to be trained in human trafficking issues and the law.
(b) Human Trafficking Commission or Task Force:A statute that creates, establishes, or encourages a task force, commission or advisory committee dedicated to addressing human trafficking.

Lower Burden of Proofs for CSEC Victims   5.   Lower Burden of Proof for Sex Trafficking of Minors: A statute that ensures that the elements of force, fraud, or coercion are not required for a trafficker to be prosecuted for the sex trafficking of a minor. This statute must be under the sex trafficking section in order for the state to receive credit.

Hotline Posting   6.   Posting a Human Trafficking Hotline: A statute that mandates or encourages the public posting of a human trafficking hotline, such as the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline or a state human trafficking hotline.

Safe Harbor   7.   Safe Harbor - Protecting Sexually Exploited Minors: A statute that recognizes sexually exploited individuals under 18 as victims of a crime in need of protection and services by granting immunity from prosecution or diverting minors from juvenile delinquency proceedings, and instead directing them to child welfare services. In order to receive full credit, the state must have provisions that relate to both immunity or diversion and services for the child.

Victim Assistance   8.   Victim Assistance: A statute that provides assistance, mandates the creation of a victim services plan, or funds programs to help victims of human trafficking. Victim services and protection may include counseling, job assistance, housing, continuing education, legal services, and/or a human trafficking caseworker privilege.

Civil Damages   9.   Access to Civil Damages: A statute that provides victims of human trafficking with the ability to seek civil damages from their traffickers.

Vacating Convictions   10.   Vacating Convictions for Sex Trafficking Victims: A statute that permits victims to have convictions for prostitution that were committed as a result of being trafficked vacated from their criminal records.


2014 State Reports

Please click on the link below for your individual state report which lists the statute(s) your state received credit for. This list is not necessarily exhaustive of all of the laws against human trafficking in each state, and only includes the laws from the 10 categories that we track for the state ratings map. For guidelines and examples of bill language, please consult Polaris’s Model Provisions of Comprehensive State Legislation to Combat Human Trafficking and Commentary. If you need technical assistance in enacting laws to fill in the gaps, please contact the Polaris Policy Program at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For additional information related to your state, visit our State-by-State Resources Page.

NHTRC-module National Human Trafficking Resource Center Report Human Trafficking Access Trainings Human Trafficking Information & Resources

Client Quotes

"Thanks to Polaris Project, I have a job, a home, and many friends that help me when I need it. I am making a life of my own."


- Survivor of Labor Trafficking & Client of Polaris