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Interpreting the U.S. Human Trafficking Debate Through the Lens of Symbolic Politics

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By enacting the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, U.S. policymakers acknowledged trafficking in persons as criminal behavior, punishable under federal law. The legislation was developed through the congressional policy-making process, usually studied from the perspective of who gets what, when, and how. To expand our understanding of criminal justice policymaking, this article analyzes the act from an alternative perspective—symbolic politics. It examines how the act performs symbolic functions identified in the criminal justice literature—reassuring the law abiding/threatening the lawbreaker, communicating a moral message, providing a model for the states, and educating about a problem.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2007

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