July 16, 2019 – Prosecutions for sex trafficking of children under a law used against financier Jeffrey Epstein last week are down 26.7 percent over the past fiscal year, according to the latest available data from the Justice Department. This is the second year in a row that prosecutions for sex trafficking of children under Title 18 Section 1591 have fallen – a reversal of the growth trend during the Obama years.

So far during the first eight months of FY 2019, case-by-case government files record a total of 108 prosecutions under this statute. If the same pace continues for the rest of the fiscal year, the annual estimate for FY 2019 prosecutions of this type will have fallen 32.2 percent, from 239 prosecutions that took place five years ago.

Under long-standing law, every U.S. Attorney is appointed by the president and is a part of the Justice Department. But over the years, while the 94 federal prosecutors have generally followed broad administration enforcement policies, many have exercised considerable independence over which cases they decide to bring or not bring. In the last full year of the Obama Administration, federal prosecutors prosecuted 49 percent of these referrals. This percentage has been slipping since: during FY 2017 it was 46 percent and in FY 2018 it was 42 percent. So far in this fiscal year, Justice Department records show that the rate has fallen to 39 percent.

These comparisons are based on case-by-case information obtained and analyzed by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC) at Syracuse University.

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