Safe Harbor for All Strategic Planning Process

Safe Harbor For All Strategic Planning Process

The State of Minnesota Legislature seeks to identify the most appropriate and effective response for adults impacted by commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, as well as the harms that criminalization of prostitution causes to people involved in commercial sex. The strategic planning process builds on Safe Harbor for Youth and the No Wrong Door Model which was implemented in 2014 with services, supports and housing for sexually exploited youth.

The Safe Harbor for All strategic planning process was mandated by the legislature to help decide next steps. The legislature funded a grant to pass-through the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). MDH awarded the project to a partnership of three agencies lead by the University of Minnesota's Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) with The Advocates for Human Rights and Rainbow Research. The strategic planning process includes stakeholder input, analysis of existing data, and review of the literature. The final product will be a strategic plan delivered to MDH no later than October 31, 2018 and presented to the legislature soon afterward.

In January 2018, the Strategic Planning Team convened an expert Process Advisory Group of thirty-five individuals from across the state and diverse communities with a wealth of knowledge and experience that is centered around the wisdom of those with personal experience selling or trading sex, and survivors of trafficking. This Process Advisory Group reviewed all community engagement plans and protocols to ensure that our process was open, inclusive, safe, and transparent. The Process Advisory Group was convened at the end of the community engagement process to review data analysis plans and provide feedback on the report.

Safe Harbor for All

The research team sought stakeholder input to identify potential impacts of policy changes on the health, wellness, and dignity of adults involved in commercial sex, including victims of trafficking and exploitation. It explored people’s opinions about intended and unintended consequences related to different legal frameworks. The strategic planning process engaged stakeholders from across Minnesota from a wide variety of communities as described in the legislation. The team focused on two groups:

  1. People with personal experience in trading or selling sex, which includes adult victims and survivors of sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation, and sex workers
  2. Systems professionals with expertise on sex trading and trafficking, which include law enforcement, prosecutors, social service providers, advocates and more.

The legislation also mandates statewide input from people of all genders and sexual orientations, racial and ethnic communities, immigrants and new Americans, tribally affiliated individuals, and more.

The plan will address relevant criminal issues, availability and access to prevention and intervention services for adult victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking, unintended consequences of any recommendations, and identification of intersections with other areas of oppression. Also, as mandated by legislation, the final product will include specific recommendations regarding the adoption of a partial decriminalization, or “Safe Harbor for All”, statewide model.

Summary of Community Engagement

The strategic plan mandates extensive community engagement across the state of Minnesota, across sectors, across cultural communities, with specific focus on victims and survivors of sex trafficking and exploitation and others with personal experience in commercial sex. The community engagement process started in February 2018 and concluded in August 2018.
Here's a timeline of activity:

  • From February through August 2018 the Strategic Planning Team engaged with 292 stakeholders in individual and group formats and online surveys.
  • The team traveled to six regions in Greater Minnesota.
  • The team talked with more than 100 people who have personal experience in trafficking, exploitation, and/or commercial sex, whose voices and perspectives became the foundation of the data analysis.
  • The team hosted three Process Advisory Group meetings to review and revise interview guides, recruitment strategies, and ​data analysis plans. 
  • The team launched an online, anonymous survey that was open May through August 2018 as an additional avenue to share feedback and perspective.
  • The team partnered with more than 30 students, interns, and volunteers who supported the project through transcription, note taking, literature reviews, and analysis.

The report will be submitted to the Minnesota Department of Health on October 31st, 2018.

For more information about the strategic planning process, contact UROC Director of Research Lauren Martin at mart2114@umn.edu.