Crime & Legal
Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges
ALIGHT believes that survivors of human trafficking deserve meaningful justice. That is why we use technology to do good by connecting each survivor - whether a homeless youth, a single mom, or an agricultural worker - to an army of lawyers. ALIGHT's Legal Needs Matching Program allows service providers to quickly and efficiently connect survivors with relevant and available free legal assistance through a mobile app.
Human trafficking survivors who escape their trafficking situations often suffer from trauma and have many interlocking needs, many of which are legal needs. For example, a survivor may need to divorce her trafficker (who is also her husband), negotiate with debt collection agencies, and expunge her criminal record of crimes she was forced to commit while trafficked.
ALIGHT fills in the gaps in partnership that currently exist between advocates serving vulnerable populations and pro bono help from law firms and private practice that currently have no direct way to contribute to anti-trafficking efforts. This innovation means precious time is not wasted on coordination, each trafficking survivor has access to specialized legal assistance, and attorneys who want to join the anti-trafficking movement and assist survivors have an effective way to do so.
Based on our experience and data gathered to date, we have gleaned valuable and unique insights on survivors' unmet legal needs and obstacles to accessing legal help. We are seeing growing needs for the free counsel and representation offered through our Program, with many requests to deal with trafficking-related legal needs that have included: child custody and visitation; harassment; criminal defense; and, consumer debt. ALIGHT seeks to grow our geographic reach and overall capacity to aid more survivors of human trafficking.
Since launching in 2017, ALIGHT's Legal Needs Matching Program has resulted in:
- Almost $100,000 in free legal services to survivors of human trafficking!
- Validation that the mobile app can quickly connect the legal need(s) of a survivor to multiple attorneys with relevant expertise, sometimes in less than 1 hour.
- A total of 33 survivors connecting with valuable legal expertise on 40 separate legal needs.
- A network of 21 attorneys, which at times has provided survivors with more than one attorney to choose from for assistance with their legal needs.
- A network of 44 community service organizations serving vulnerable populations, whose capacity we enhance with access to free legal services for survivors.
- Expansion of the program beyond Metro Denver to assist survivors in other areas.
ALIGHT started out by researching, testing and validating our innovative model. Our Legal Needs Matching Program fully launched in the Denver metro area in February 2017. In 2017 we connected 11 trafficking survivors with legal assistance on 13 separate legal issues. During this time, we worked with 10 pro bono attorneys with expertise in civil law, criminal law or family law participated in the Program.
In 2018 (through October 31), we have served 22 survivors on 27 separate legal issues. When a survivor turned to us for legal help, nearly 25% of the time they had two attorneys to choose from. Based on reporting from attorneys participating in the Program, nearly $100,000 in legal services were provided in the 18-month period of February 2017 to July 2018, for an average of over $3,500 in legal services per survivor.
Crime & Legal
Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender
Since inception, ALIGHT has focused on bringing new resources and advocates into the anti-trafficking movement. To this end, ALIGHT conducts trainings aimed at increasing awareness within the general public of human trafficking here in Colorado, giving guidance on identifying and reporting a potential trafficking situation, and helping service providers spot potential legal needs and remedies for trafficking survivors. In addition, ALIGHT has created supplementary materials specifically geared to attorneys who want to assist trafficking survivors, and for service providers who may be interacting with human trafficking survivors but are not yet screening, identifying, and connecting them with trafficking-specific resource.
Over the past three years, ALIGHT has conducted trainings that have reached several hundreds of participants, including at state and national venues such as the Freedom Network USA Conference, the Colorado Women's Bar Association Conference, and the Colorado Advocacy in Action Conference. Participants have included members of the general public, law students, service providers, and anti-trafficking advocates.
After participating in a training, service providers noted about their new learnings:
- "There are legal resources available to help folks who are feeling alone and the things they are dealing with might actually be legal needs."
- "This presentation helped me to better acknowledge the red flags of human trafficking victims vs domestic violence victims."
Civil Rights, Social Action & Advocacy
Through engagement with anti-trafficking advocates in Colorado, across the US and around the world, ALIGHT is identifying the opportunities and challenges of using technology to connect human trafficking survivors with legal assistance. It is so easy for traffickers to use their mobile phones and other technologies to groom, recruit, and control their victims. To combat these injustices, ALIGHT is collaborating with other experts in this area, including survivor leaders to bring tech solutions to benefit the human trafficking survivors, and to develop and share best practices.
ALIGHT has been invited as a thought leader to share its experiences and collaborate with anti-trafficking advocates to discuss emerging issues on a local, national and international level.
- presenting at the Princeton Center for Information Technology and Policy on ethical IT design addressing at-risk groups,
- presenting at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women on solutions to end human trafficking, and
- hosting meetings with over 46 anti-trafficking leaders and foreign delegates from 41 countries through the U.S. State Department International Visitors Leadership Program.