Book Review: Human targets: Schools, police, and the criminalization of Latino youth

Date01 December 2019
Published date01 December 2019
Subject MatterBook Reviews
trafficking when creating legislation to address human trafficking, and that social service providers
have limited resources to serve trafficking victims. Further, they illustrate the fact that when people
hear the term ‘‘human trafficking,’’ they almost always think of sex trafficking, rendering labor traf-
ficking victims essentially ignored or invisible. Their interviews with victims of labor trafficking, as
well as social service providers who work with these victims, highlight the very real problem of
labor trafficking in the St. Louis and the surrounding area. Although this study focused only on two
states and was limited in its geographic scope, one can assume that labor trafficking is a pervasive
problem nationwide, especially in areas with a focus on agricultural and farming.
The sex trafficking discussion presents a thorough review of the nature, prevalence, and risk fac-
tors associated with sex trafficking, interspersed with quotes from victims, law enforcement officers,
and social service providers. The quotes highlight the issues surrounding sex trafficking as well as
discuss the misconceptions that many hold about sex trafficking. Of particular note is that many peo-
ple envision young women and girls held physically captive, often held in chains, when they think of
or see images depicting sex trafficking. Rather, victims indicated that it was more likely the victims
were under the psychological control rather than the physical control of their captors. This chapter
also went into a great deal of discussion recruitment techniques for traffickers and how they operate.
The remaining chapters focus on the response to human trafficking—police, community, and
social service provider. Of interesting note is the difference in attitudes between federal law enforce-
ment officers and state and local officers. Because many trafficking cases are federal cases, federal
officers have very different views and attitudes on trafficking than state and local officers. This is
problematic, as state and local officers are the first responders in trafficking cases. Further, without
proper training and understanding of the issue, it is difficult for local officers to recognize and
respond to trafficking effectively. The authors conclude with a discussion of the implications of their
research for law enforcement, the community, social service providers, and legislators. They make a
number of recommendations as well as recognizing the promising efforts that are occurring as a
response to trafficking. Ultimately, they argue that the focus must shift to what we can do better
to address human trafficking in all manifestations.
Heil and Nichols provide an insightful and through examination into human trafficking in the St.
Louis and bi-state area. Although their research is, admittedly, limited in that it focuses on one rel-
atively small geographic area, it adds to the limited body of research on sex trafficking by examining
it through a multidisciplinary lens, while also recognizing the different parties involved in respond-
ing to and addressing trafficking. Future research should continue to explore this issue across the
United States.
Rios, V. M. (2017).
Human targets: Schools, police, and the criminalization of Latino youth. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
viii, 211 pp. $20, ISBN 9780226090993.
Reviewed by: Aaron Kupchik, University of Delaware, Newark, DE, USA.
DOI: 10.1177/0734016817734897
Victor M. Rios’s prior book, Punished (NYU Press, 2011), is one of the best books I have read in
years. It is a groundbreaking study of Black and Latino young men in Oakland and the ‘‘youth con-
trol complex’’ that they face; this is the ubiquitous punitive control that labeled them as criminals
538 Criminal Justice Review 44(4)

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