Colleen Owens
Urban Institute Associate
Former employee

Colleen Owens is a senior research associate in the Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, where she is codirector of a diverse portfolio of research on human trafficking in the United States and abroad. She has over a decade of experience.

Owens is coprincipal investigator for a project examining labor trafficking in the United States. She also leads a study on forced marriage, intimate partner violence, and sexual violence among South Asian immigrants in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area in partnership with Tahirih Justice Center. Owens was principal investigator for a joint study with Northeastern University to examine challenges in the investigation and prosecution of state and local human trafficking cases. She helped design and operate the national Human Trafficking Reporting System, a collaborative project with Northeastern University to design the first national data-collection and reporting system on human trafficking victims and offenders. In addition, she assisted the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention with an investigative research effort on changes in federally prosecuted cases of the commercial sexual exploitation of children.

Owens also directs several international antitrafficking research efforts. She is coprincipal investigator for three US State Department–funded projects, including an impact evaluation of a service provision program for young adult and child sex-trafficking survivors in Asia; a process evaluation of an antitrafficking awareness raising initiative in South America; and a project identifying promising practices in antitrafficking prosecution, prevention, protection, and partnership in four countries.

Research Areas
Crime, justice, and safety
Global issues
Social safety net
Race and equity
Immigrant communities and racial equity
Racial barriers to accessing the safety net
Racial and ethnic disparities in criminal justice
International development and governance