What is Safe Harbor?
Before August 1, 2014, Minnesota could charge and treat sexually exploited youth as criminals–as juvenile delinquents engaging in acts of prostitution. Because of the efforts of MNCASA in collaboration with many dedicated nonprofit and government agencies (Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, Minnesota Department of Health, The Family Partnership, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota, among others), Minnesota passed the Safe Harbor Law in 2011. Now, Minnesota youth who engage in sexual acts for anything of value or a promise of something of value today are viewed as victims and survivors, not criminals. They are treated with dignity and respect, and directed to supportive services, shelter, and housing that meet their needs and recognize their right to make their own choices.
This timeline depicts the phases and key changes of Safe Harbor in Minnesota:
Once Safe Harbor was enacted in 2011, 3 key changes were applied:
- Added the definition of sexually exploited youth in Minnesota’s child protection codes
- Increased the penalties against commercial sex abusers or purchasers
- Directed the Commissioner of Public Safety to work with stakeholders to create a victim-centered, statewide response for sexually exploited youth
In 2014, 2 more additions became effective:
- Prostitution was decriminalized for youth under the age of 18
- Funding was granted to the Minnesota Department of Health, Department of Human Services, and Department of Public Safety for Safe Harbor housing and supportive services, as well as training for law enforcement and other stakeholders
Safe Harbor Protocol Teams
Learn more about Safe Harbor Protocol Teams and how we support them.
Safe Harbor Protocol Guidelines
The Safe Harbor Protocol Guidelines were developed by the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, in partnership with SVJI, and are the result of the work of more than 200 professionals from a variety of disciplines. Funding was provided through a State of Minnesota legislative appropriation.