By The Vanguard Staff
OAKLAND, CA – Pamela Price secured the endorsement for Alameda County District Attorney this week from Oakland City Council President Nikki Fortunato Bas, who said, “Pamela is the only candidate…I trust to make innovative changes in how victims are supported and perpetrators are successfully prosecuted.”
Bas was referring to the fact that Alameda County, according to a statement by Price’s campaign, is the third highest “hot spot” for human trafficking in the U.S. The International Labor Organization estimates that “100,000 children, women, and men in the United States are trafficked and forced into prostitution, domestic servitude, or other enslaved labor reportedly,” the campaign added.
“It is critical, not only for Oakland residents, but for all of Alameda County to have a DA who understands how to work with victims and has a history of protecting vulnerable women and youth,” said Bas.
Survivors in Alameda County repeatedly report that they are made to feel like criminals instead of victims, said Price, noting in candidate forums the “current DA has repeatedly called sex trafficking victims ‘prostitutes.’ Advocates know that labeling a child or youth as a ‘prostitute’ suggests an element of choice – there is no choice in sex trafficking.”
To reduce human trafficking in Alameda County, Price said she “plans several significant changes in policy and procedure. One change will be a new court designed for survivors with repeat sex work offenses, or offenses arising out of active engagement in the sex trade, modeled after the Project Dawn Court in Philadelphia. Project Dawn Court is an alternative diversion program. Seventy percent (70%) of the participants successfully graduate from the program,” according to her office.
Another major change, Price’s office added, “will be the expansion of services for sexually exploited youth and adults that will recognize them as survivors with trained staff to respond to the dangers they face, who can assist in creating a safety plan as well as transition and long-term plans. Price will focus on creating opportunities to divert survivors from the criminal justice system and to build a new life.”
“Currently, 1 out of every 5 cases where the DA’s office seeks human trafficking justice fails,” stated Price. “We need an office that wraps services around the victims both for sex and labor trafficking because a case can easily fall apart if the victim doesn’t fully participate or feel supported. Treating victims with compassion and dignity is a missing element that I know my office will champion.”
Price said she will partner with “other agencies and NGOs to provide housing, awareness campaigns and expand the focus of human trafficking partnerships with communities often unserved. Alameda County data includes a large number of male victims. Gay young men and transgender youth are particularly vulnerable to trafficking.”
“Three out of 5 human trafficking victims in Alameda County are from Alameda County. This is a local problem that needs people rooted in our community to address it at its root causes,” said President Bas.
Bas added, “Human trafficking has been going on for too long and is taking a harsh toll in the District I represent. We need a robust plan to reduce the risks of falling victim to human trafficking and smart strategies to remove exploiters from inflicting more harm. Pamela has lived in Alameda County for over 40 years, and has won cases involving abuse, plus she has built critical bonds with organizations who are on the frontlines of ending human trafficking. This leadership shift is needed to end the toll on our women, youth and our communities.”
“It is about building winning cases and providing justice with compassion for victims, I have experience and success doing both and will continue to do so as District Attorney,” said Price. “I look forward to working with President Bas and city leaders across Alameda County to tackle this problem with transparency, innovation and community partnerships.”