I enjoyed learning about human trafficking from a different perspective today: the view of law enforcement. Our first meeting with Mary Ellen Barrett, the San Diego DA in charge of prosecuting human trafficking-related crimes, was particularly intriguing for me since I seen the way these DA’s are portrayed on TV, and I wanted to see how the perception compared to the reality. DA Barrett seemed very knowledgeable about the issue but also a little bit desensitized and matter-of-fact when it came to describing the details of human trafficking. Unlike community members like Annika from the BSSC, DA Barrett didn’t seem overly emotional or at all hesitant when talking about the issue. I was surprised that DA Barrett didn’t seem more scared for her own personal safety when prosecuting such powerful pimps and gang members, but I liked how she placed the human trafficking problem within the cultural context of the glorification of pimps and “The Life.”
I also enjoyed our meeting with the Lawyer’s Club of San Diego, but as some people in the group mentioned, the all-white nature of the panel and the setting of a fancy law firm made our experience seem a little bit removed from the actual problem occurring on the ground. However, I admire the efforts of the club and believe that their efforts in promoting legislation that will aim to expunge the records of trafficking victims and increase penalties against sex purchasers (albeit with creative ways to punish these perpetrators without increasing actual prison sentences) will be an effective way to start combating the issue. Our group reflection highlighted some issues that I had not previously thought about, including diversity within the lawyers club and how addressing the problem of human trafficking might involve changing the system as a whole rather than focusing on smaller steps such as implementing new laws and education programs.