Dialectical Anthropology

, Volume 37, Issue 2, pp 257-276

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Domestic minor sex trafficking and the detention-to-protection pipeline

  • Jennifer MustoAffiliated withExternal Faculty Fellow, Humanities Research Center (HRC), Human Trafficking Seminar, Rice University Email author 


Notable discursive changes are afoot with respect to individuals, particularly sex trade–involved youth in the United States. Where once they may have been profiled as juvenile offenders, they are now, thanks to widespread attention to human trafficking, provisionally viewed by law enforcement and their non-state allies as potential victims of domestic minor sex trafficking, replete with traumatic pasts and turbulent family histories that authorize state intervention. This article examines how anti-trafficking policies have been discursively re-imagined to expand policing and rehabilitative interventions for youth. Drawing on in-depth interviews and ethnographic observations, it tracks the discursive sites and spaces in which criminal justice and social justice agendas have coalesced to assist youth and further assesses how attention to domestic minor sex trafficking has simultaneously authorized a multiprofessional detention-to-protection pipeline.


Domestic minor sex trafficking Policing Sex work Prostitution Critical trafficking studies Prison abolition Criminal justice Juvenile justice Anti-trafficking rescue industry Carceral studies Critical criminology