UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

UC Berkeley law professor releases new report on hidden slavery in California

– Laurel Fletcher, a University of California, Berkeley, law professor and researcher with the campus's Human Rights Center, has released a new report from the center on forced labor in California and will testify about the findings Friday (Feb. 25) during a hearing before state lawmakers in Los Angeles.

The report, "Freedom Denied: Forced Labor in California," follows an in influential national report that the center released on this issue last fall in Washington. D.C.

The new report looks at the nature and scope of the problem in California, finding that such cases take place across the state, although 80 percent of the incidents occur in the just three metropolitan areas -- the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego metro areas. Individuals are forced into prostitution, domestic service, and sweatshop work, often with little or no compensation, according to the report.

The report recommends that California legislators enact new criminal laws against forced labor, train law enforcement offers to recognize forced labor situations, and increase critical support services -- such as safe housing and access to legal counsel -- for forced labor victims. The report will be on the Human Rights Center's Web site: http://www.hrcberkeley.org/

Fletcher will discuss these recommendations when she testifies during a hearing held by members of the California legislature including Assemblywoman Sally J. Lieber (D-Mountain View) and the California Commission on the Status of Women. The hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 and end at 3 p.m. at UCLA's James West Alumni Center, 325 Westwood Plaza.

For more information on the hearing, contact Assemblywoman Lieber's chief of staff, Cory Jasperson, at (916) 319-2022 or (916) 215-9463. For interviews with Fletcher call (510) 643-4792 or contact the UC Berkeley Media Relations office.

You can read a UC Berkeley Media Relations press release about last fall's report about forced labor at: http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2004/09/23_16691.shtml