Judge Regina Cahan is the Chair of the King County CSEC Task Force and relies upon the efforts of Kelly Mangiaracina the single employee and work force behind the King County Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) Task Force. This woman is the glue in connecting all the amazing people involved in the anti-trafficking initiative.
Recognizing that an individualized task force on human trafficking was vital, the King County Superior Court received a grant to establish relationships with key players involved in the anti-trafficking world. Kelly meets with organizations throughout King County and makes sure everyone is communicating so they don’t duplicate resources and so they can provide a better continuum of care for young people. Better services matter and ensure the safety of victims.
Prior to the establishment of the CSEC Task Force, young people in the sex trade were often sent to jail. historically, prosecutors would charges these victims with the crime of prostitution and the judge would place them in juvenile detention.
“We were treating our sex trafficking victims like criminals.” Kelly explains.
This above statement was seen with the drafting and passing of the “Becca Bill.” Named after a girl named Becca who ran away and got killed by her buyer, this Washington State bill began working to help at-risk youth by attempting to provide services for those who consistently ran away and who skipped school. Unfortunately, the funding wasn’t sufficient and these at risk youth often were placed in detention. Therefore, instead of helping, this bill locked up more kids for non-criminal offenses than any other state. Washington released that this was not the intent of the Becca bill and passed 5290 to prohibit detention being used for status offenders.
“I think it is fundamentally unethical that we were putting trafficking survivors in detention, and unethical that our state has given us no other option. We don’t have treatment providers available. We don’t have beds available. We don’t have other options. “
Although there is no definitive answer to this complex problem, Kelly is confident that the State of Washington will find a solution with a coalition of government, non-profits, and community Groups.
Kelly shares valuable information through the King County CSEC Task Force website, as well as through trainings and public speaking events. Regular trainings include: Responding to The Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Youth, And Boys Too, At The Margins: The Sex Trafficking of LGBTQ+ Youth, Engaging Men to End Commercial Sexual Exploitation, and Engaging and Serving Youth Using Motivational Interviewing. In addition to these trainings, in the coming months, two training companion videos will go live which Kelly hopes will “increase the knowledge in our community about sex trafficking,” and make this information accessible to anyone across the country.
Although it might seem like Kelly cannot possibly have any time to herself, she makes sure there is a definitive balance between work and personal life. As an avid hiker and animal lover, Kelly shares with me some of the things that make her laugh and smile every day. Because as much as doing this work makes her heart full, it’s also a serious commitment– an emotional commitment. So it’s the little things, like dressing up her cats and dogs in funny costumes and surrounding herself in the beauty of nature, that comforts her amid the stress of her job. Kelly is a woman who knows everybody– and I mean everybody. She facilitates an all inclusive approach open to anyone who is addressing the issue of sex trafficking from a victim centered perspective. Anyone is invited to the conversation and be a part of her work.
“I don’t do the work. I talk to the people who do the work and then I get to share their work with the community.” Despite her extreme modesty, one cannot deny that Kelly spearheaded this task force and is the driving factor for the communication among the people and organizations directly fighting human trafficking. The work she has done deserves more than applause and praise; it deserves imitation. If Kelly can take on this huge role and move the ball forward, then we can educate ourselves on the third largest illicit industry in the world.
Kelly encourages all ages to use the King County CSEC Task Force website to find information, trainings, and more.