Bridgette Carr Will Receive Champion of Justice Award Sept. 17 in Grand Rapids


Most people think slavery in the United States went extinct when it was abolished in 1865.

Sadly, they're wrong.

Human trafficking is the second largest illegal industry in the world. According to a 2011 Global Financial Integrity report, an estimated $31.6 billion in trade is done in human trafficking per year. An estimated one million people are ensnared in the global sex trade annually. In the U.S. alone, hundreds of thousands of citizen minors are at risk of commercial sexual exploitation.

Bridgette Carr, a longtime fierce advocate for immigrants and refugees, first as a Refugee and Asylum Law Fellow with Amnesty International, then as the leader of the Immigrant Rights Project at Notre Dame Law School, discovered the problem of human trafficking in 2005.

Federal law enforcement authorities called on Carr's expertise when they uncovered a "study abroad" scheme that took female college students from Eastern Europe, brought them to Detroit, and forced them to work in the sex industry without pay. Carr helped bring the leaders of the human trafficking ring to justice, and she's been fighting for other victims ever since.

In 2009, Carr became the founder and director of the University of Michigan Human Trafficking Law Clinic, the first of its kind. The clinic provides legal resources to victims of human trafficking, in the form of direct legal representation and advocacy for victims and community training and education. The clinic contributes to the international Human Trafficking Database, tracking all trafficking legal cases around the globe. The clinic was awarded a $500,000 three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to fund a partnership between the clinic and domestic violence and sexual assault services.

Carr also currently oversees a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State to establish a human trafficking clinic in Mexico. She has been appointed to the American Bar Association Presidential Task Force on Human Trafficking. She is a member of the Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force and the Michigan Human Trafficking Commission. The efforts of these groups have led to 19 new laws being passed in Michigan to help the victims of human trafficking.

"Working with the highest ranking national and state government officials, Professor Carr stands to make a long-lasting positive impact in the fight against modern-day slavery," wrote E. Christopher Johnson in her nomination. "Her innovation, passion, and determination, coupled with her legal knowledge, make her a formidable force to bring an end to the world's second largest criminal activity."

Story by Samantha Meinke


Bridgette A. Carr

Click the caption below Bridgette A. Carr's photo to download a high resolution version. Read about all SBM Award winners. More information about the Annual Meeting can be found in the SBM Annual Meeting Media Kit.