Psychological Coercion in the Context of Modern-Day Involuntary Labor: Revisiting United States v. Kozminski and Understanding Human Trafficking
33 Pages Posted: 18 Oct 2007
Human trafficking is synonymous with modern-day slavery according to legislators, law enforcement, immigrant rights advocates, women's rights advocates, and the public at large. This characterization, however, has little resemblance to the chattel slavery that existed in the United States' antebellum South. A broader understanding of slavery has replaced the visceral imagery of the buying and selling of African slaves, and the state-sanctioned violence of whips and chains that prompted the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment. Through a diverse range of physical or non-physical methods including deception and mental manipulation, modern private actors have lured and compelled individuals to work in a variety of industries.
In the context of modern Thirteenth Amendment doctrine, lawmakers and courts have broadly categorized such non-overt means of inducing labor as "psychological coercion." Liberal application of this term encompasses a vast range of abusive elements of human trafficking situations from poor working conditions and cultural isolation to threats to harm a worker's family members. Yet, while recognized as a key component of human trafficking, courts and legislatures have yet to define the legal dimensions of psychological coercion.
This article aims to contribute to the development of Thirteenth Amendment jurisprudence by exploring the nature and legal function of psychological coercion in cases of modern-day slavery. By discussing the nature and legal significance of psychological coercion in cases of modern-day involuntary labor, this article critically examines the doctrinal limitations that have emerged and sets a foundation for ongoing evaluation of psychological coercion in future human trafficking cases.
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