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H.E.A.T Conference Ignites Bay Area Activists

by Carol Leigh (carol [at]
The H.E.A.T. conference, a gathering of police and non-profits, has ignited Bay Area activists in protest of the correctional justice strategies promoted at the conference, including the CASE Act, a 2012 California ballot initiative.
The H.E.A.T. conference, beginning today at the Oakland Marriott has ignited a range of Bay Area activists including social justice/sex worker advocates with critiques including: harassment, imprisonment, marginalization and criminalization of sex workers under the guise of child trafficking/sex trafficking; exploitation of youth by law enforcement; and non-profits working with police to further expand the correctional justice structure through economic incentives resulting in further exploitation and disempowerment of those it claims to assist.

Attention to the issue was initiated by Oakland Occupy Patriarchy with a call to action targeting the conference. A range of Bay Area activists joined the discussion with concerns about the H.E.A.T. conference as well as the CASE Act, a 2012 California ballot initiative.

Although the conference is organized around the issue of exploitation of minors, activists are alarmed that law enforcement and police strategies developed in this context actually do a great deal of harm to young people in general (and to adult sex workers, who are also targets of these strategies.)

Interventions based on 'juvenile justice system' models are widely critiqued from a public health policy perspective. In 2006, for example, a report by Oakland's Child Prostitution Advisory Task Force (Mayor Dellums) noted that: "Overall, we received feedback that that their contact with the juvenile justice system has had adverse effects, reducing life options for youth and alienating them further into behaviors involving risk. The criminal system tends disproportionately to entrap youth of color in its throes and the punitive experiences undermine the inherent worth and value of young people's lives."

Activists also were alarmed about the upcoming 2012 California ballot initiative, 'The CASE Act,' which has been endorsed by Oakland Mayor Jean Quan,and will be promoted in the the final policy panel at the conference.

"I assume the CASE Act is a central impetus for this conference, or at least one of them. This proposed 2012 California ballot initiative is highly problematic as it relies on broad definitions of everything from duress to commercial sex. With a fine of 'up to a million dollars' this ballot initiative represents a new stretch in granting extreme powers to the criminal justice system, once again in the guise of anti-trafficking," says, Carol Leigh of Trafficking Policy Research Project.

(Download the CASE Act here: )

"The Act specifically creates a mechanism whereby police departments will be funded through fines collected through crimes defined through this act. As such, it creates a mechanism whereby the state becomes financial dependent upon the maintenance of the legal schema created," explains attorney, Cynthia Chandler. (Also see:

The H.E.A.T conference takes place at the Oakland Marriott from June 13-15th. A protest launched by Oakland Occupy Patriarchy will take place at 1 PM on June 13th.

Additional resources:

Youth Policy:

UN Advisory group member, Cheryl Overs on Tackling Child Commercial Sexual Exploitation-

Pedophile and Child Porn Law Enforcement Agents 2010-2012
by Norma Jean Almodovar Author, Cop to Call Girl (

Tribute to survivors of child sexual assault by law enforcement officers.

Lost Boys: New research demolishes the stereotype

Oakland Child Prostitution Advisory Task Force Report 2006 (Mayor Dellums)

Trafficking Policy:

Trafficking Policy Research Project- Examining the Effects of
U.S. Trafficking Laws and Policies

The Naked Anthropologist, Dr Laura Agustín on Migration, Trafficking and Sex

Beyond The Barbed Wire: Sex Workers In India Help Fight Sex Trafficking

Durbar Mahila Samanwaya Committee Anti-Trafficking Project

Materials from Emi Koyama at

War on Terror & War on Trafficking -

Understanding the Complexities of Sex Trafficking and Sex Work/Trade: Ten Observations from a Sex Worker Activist/Survivor/Feminist

Constructing "domestic minor sex trafficking" as a "gang-related" issue: what I learned at a forum on "the other kind" of human trafficking

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