Sac County is seeing more human trafficking cases. How many traffickers serve their full sentence?

profile photo
By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office is seeing more sex-trafficking cases than ever before.But that caseload does not necessarily translate to jail time.Courtney Martin is one of two Sacramento County deputy district attorneys assigned to prosecute sex traffickers. In the past five years, her caseload has tripled.”It sounds like a discouraging number because it sounds like there is more human trafficking but it’s actually an encouraging number,” Martin told KCRA 3. “It means we are identifying victims better. Law enforcement is doing a better job at investigating these cases, bringing them to the DA’s office so that we can file them.”Community Against Sexual Harm is also working to stop that cycle of abuse in Sacramento. CASH estimates that between 2015 and 2020, there were 13,000 victims trafficked for sex in Sacramento County alone.| Related | What is The Blade? Here are terms to know in understanding sex trafficking in Sacramento CountyOver the last few years, Martin and her team have been getting more convictions. But the sentences handed down often don’t stick.How many people convicted of human trafficking serve their full sentence?KCRA 3 Investigates examined the number of Sacramento County inmates in prison for human trafficking in 2022. A total of 246 inmates were released from prison that year after they were convicted of human trafficking, pimping or pandering. Only two of those inmates had served their entire original sentence. “The Department of Corrections has significant power to decide how long a person serves of their sentence,” Martin said. “Because of COVID and some other policy changes, defendants are serving a very small amount of the sentence time that they are given by a judge.”As a more specific example, among those charged with the human trafficking of a minor, which carries a sentence of up to 12 years, the average time served was four years and five months. What issues can shorter sentences create?Shorter sentences can impact both attorneys and police officers. For attorneys, they have to explain to human trafficking victims that the people who victimized them may see less prison time. Police officers working to take offenders off the streets see a number of repeat offenders.”You know, when we do have a victim who’s cooperative, who wants to see the person who victimized them held accountable, we have to tell them,” Martin said. “You just heard the judge announce this sentence. But you have to know that’s not how long they’re going to go to prison.”Martin said their team can’t even tell victims when their abusers would be out of custody.”When we negotiate a case, we would like to know, what does this actually mean? What is the sentence that we’re actually getting here? And the way the law is right now, we just don’t necessarily have that certainty,” Martin said.KCRA 3 Investigates joined Sacramento police detectives on an undercover operation in which detectives posed as sex buyers online, hoping women would arrive and bring their traffickers with themDuring the operation they came across Jody National. He was first sent to prison in 2015 after being convicted of gang activity and vehicle theft.In 2017, he was sent back to prison, this time getting an eight-year sentence for pimping. National was out within five years, released early for “credits earned” while incarcerated.National was locked up again in 2022, after receiving a three-year sentence for pimping. He was out a little more than a year later. During this sting, National was busted again. In April, he pleaded guilty to pimping and pandering. He received a nine-year prison sentence and is still eligible for credit-earning opportunities.Jason Collins, a detective with the Sacramento Police Department, has seen a number of repeat offenders during his tenure. He’s worked in the department’s Human Trafficking Unit since 2017.”I know the argument is that longer penalties don’t deter crimes but my argument would be a longer sentencing keeps that particular person from victimizing more people down the road,” Collins said. “Our traffickers have never really done it just once. Most of the time in the cases that I’ve seen, over time, the traffickers have had multiple victims working for them at one time or another.” | Do you know someone impacted by sex trafficking in Northern California? | Here’s a list of places that can helpThe story was produced as part of the KCRA 3 Investigates documentary “Escaping The Blade” about sex trafficking in Sacramento County. Watch the full report here.See more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.

The Sacramento County District Attorney’s Office is seeing more sex-trafficking cases than ever before.

But that caseload does not necessarily translate to jail time.

Advertisement

Courtney Martin is one of two Sacramento County deputy district attorneys assigned to prosecute sex traffickers. In the past five years, her caseload has tripled.

“It sounds like a discouraging number because it sounds like there is more human trafficking but it’s actually an encouraging number,” Martin told KCRA 3. “It means we are identifying victims better. Law enforcement is doing a better job at investigating these cases, bringing them to the DA’s office so that we can file them.”

Community Against Sexual Harm is also working to stop that cycle of abuse in Sacramento. CASH estimates that between 2015 and 2020, there were 13,000 victims trafficked for sex in Sacramento County alone.

| Related | What is The Blade? Here are terms to know in understanding sex trafficking in Sacramento County

Over the last few years, Martin and her team have been getting more convictions. But the sentences handed down often don’t stick.

How many people convicted of human trafficking serve their full sentence?

KCRA 3 Investigates examined the number of Sacramento County inmates in prison for human trafficking in 2022.

A total of 246 inmates were released from prison that year after they were convicted of human trafficking, pimping or pandering. Only two of those inmates had served their entire original sentence.

“The Department of Corrections has significant power to decide how long a person serves of their sentence,” Martin said. “Because of COVID and some other policy changes, defendants are serving a very small amount of the sentence time that they are given by a judge.”

As a more specific example, among those charged with the human trafficking of a minor, which carries a sentence of up to 12 years, the average time served was four years and five months.

What issues can shorter sentences create?

Shorter sentences can impact both attorneys and police officers. For attorneys, they have to explain to human trafficking victims that the people who victimized them may see less prison time. Police officers working to take offenders off the streets see a number of repeat offenders.

“You know, when we do have a victim who’s cooperative, who wants to see the person who victimized them held accountable, we have to tell them,” Martin said. “You just heard the judge announce this sentence. But you have to know that’s not how long they’re going to go to prison.”

Martin said their team can’t even tell victims when their abusers would be out of custody.

“When we negotiate a case, we would like to know, what does this actually mean? What is the sentence that we’re actually getting here? And the way the law is right now, we just don’t necessarily have that certainty,” Martin said.

KCRA 3 Investigates joined Sacramento police detectives on an undercover operation in which detectives posed as sex buyers online, hoping women would arrive and bring their traffickers with them

During the operation they came across Jody National. He was first sent to prison in 2015 after being convicted of gang activity and vehicle theft.

In 2017, he was sent back to prison, this time getting an eight-year sentence for pimping. National was out within five years, released early for “credits earned” while incarcerated.

National was locked up again in 2022, after receiving a three-year sentence for pimping. He was out a little more than a year later.

During this sting, National was busted again. In April, he pleaded guilty to pimping and pandering. He received a nine-year prison sentence and is still eligible for credit-earning opportunities.

Jason Collins, a detective with the Sacramento Police Department, has seen a number of repeat offenders during his tenure. He’s worked in the department’s Human Trafficking Unit since 2017.

“I know the argument is that longer penalties don’t deter crimes but my argument would be a longer sentencing keeps that particular person from victimizing more people down the road,” Collins said. “Our traffickers have never really done it just once. Most of the time in the cases that I’ve seen, over time, the traffickers have had multiple victims working for them at one time or another.”

| Do you know someone impacted by sex trafficking in Northern California? | Here’s a list of places that can help

The story was produced as part of the KCRA 3 Investigates documentary “Escaping The Blade” about sex trafficking in Sacramento County. Watch the full report here.

See more coverage of top California stories here | Download our app.

author photo
About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

(source)