Dr. Colin Farrell, a Visiting Assistant professor in the Department of Public Health, received the Best Paper Award at the Spring 2014 Conference in Biloxi, Mississippi. Farrell received his PhD in Medical Sociology and MPH in International Epidemiology. He co-Authored the paper with Mark Lanier, Professor in Criminal Justice at University of Alabama.
Paper: It was our belief that human trafficking should be redefined as a public health issue, opposed to solely a legal issue. There are multiple reasons for this, but one of them is strictly procedural - victim identification. The purpose of the paper was to explore the perception of human trafficking from the view of law enforcement. We surveyed law enforcement departments in all Florida (FL) counties and in South Africa (RSA). Part of the survey asked the respondent to report 'level of concern' regarding human trafficking in general (which would reflect the concern of the department) and then 'level of concern' regarding human trafficking for other societal entities - media, politics, citizens, and public health. We also had the chance to interview FL sheriffs and lawyers who represented human trafficking victims. Our results (qualitative and quantitative) suggest that law enforcement agencies in Florida and South Africa perceive human trafficking to be as much of a concern (RSA) if not a greater concern (FL) for public health than it is for law enforcement. As such, if we can incorporate the public health infrastructure into the human trafficking conversation, we would likely increase the number of victims identified.
Process: Peer selection. Each paper was presented, and then the audience (other presenters and interested parties) were asked to vote for the best paper. The votes were tallied and the paper with the most votes was awarded 'Best Paper.'
Dr. Colin Farrell