Degree Name

MA in Intercultural Service, Leadership, and Management

First Advisor

Jeff Unsicker


Human trafficking is the modern practice of slavery. Globally, there are an estimated 27 million men, women and children trapped in slavery today. It is an inter-related network of criminal activity that includes some of the most heinous human rights abuses the world has ever seen. Sadly, Vermont is not immune to the problem and has even seen multiple cases of human trafficking within its own borders. However, it was only recently that the state finally acknowledged the issue and made a commitment to take action.

On April 27, 2010, Governor Jim Douglas signed S. 272, “An act relating to human trafficking.” This was the first human trafficking bill in history to pass the Vermont legislature and created both a task force and law enforcement advisory board on human trafficking. COVAST, the Coalition of Vermonters Against Slavery Today is Vermont‟s first organization dedicated to ending human trafficking and modern day slavery within the state. From July of 2009 – May of 2010 COVAST advocated for effective legislation and worked to raise awareness throughout Vermont around the issues of human trafficking.

This capstone paper describes the work of COVAST and the process leading up to the passage of S. 272. The paper defines human trafficking in general and what it specifically looks like in Vermont. Included are several examples of cases that have occurred within Vermont in the past and scenarios that are likely to occur in the future. The fourth and fifth sections present national and state human trafficking policies with COVAST‟s recommendation for more effective legislation in Vermont. The following sections take a look at Vermont‟s policy making structure, the strategy COVAST used to advocate for legislation within that structure and describes the legislative process that starts with an idea and ends with the passage of S. 272. The final section of the paper evaluates the overall work of COVAST throughout the process and highlights a few of the many important lessons learned along the way.


Inequality and Stratification | Social Control, Law, Crime, and Deviance | Social Policy


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