Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Crime and Justice

First Advisor's Name

Suman Kakar

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Ellen Cohn

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Robert Peacock

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Fourth Advisor's Name

Thomas Breslin

Fourth Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


human trafficking, sentencing, paternalism, political conservatism

Date of Defense



The area of human trafficking and sentencing research is currently under-explored. Consequently, little foundational knowledge has been established in this area of sentencing research to ensure that sentencing biases do not exist that undermine the tenets of justice. This study produces research and findings that incrementally contribute to building this foundational knowledge on human trafficking and sentencing. It does this by creating and testing a conceptual framework of human trafficking and sentencing that identifies potential predictors of human trafficking sentencing lengths that can be used to identify potential problematic sentencing issues. The model tested in the study includes the following concepts: paternalism/chivalry, political conservatism, the diffusion of responsibility in the sentencing of group offenders, sentencing year. The data used to test the validity of the conceptual framework is comprised of human trafficking sentencing data that was extracted from press releases, reports, and cases disseminated by the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) from 2013 - 2017. The results of this study find support for two of the four predictive concepts, paternalism/chivalry and the diffusion of responsibility in predicting human trafficking sentencing lengths. For paternalism/chivalry, this study finds that female human trafficking offenders receive sentences that are, on average, 27% shorter than their male counterparts. The diffusion of responsibility concept results suggests that human traffickers who offend with an accomplice(s), on average, receive sentences that are about 9% shorter than solo traffickers. The extant research on human trafficking and sentencing has been consistently marginalized due to a lack of data. The inception of this study and its findings overcome these obstacles to produce original findings, which engenders a formidable basis of research on which future works can expound. In itself, this study forwards progress towards a fuller understanding of human trafficking and its effect where implications can be devised to eradicate the conditions that catalyze the manifestations of human trafficking.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



Rights Statement

Rights Statement

In Copyright. URI:
This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).