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Since its enactment, the Chapter has undergone substantial changes. Initially, for e.g., the lack of specific definitions of "serious harm" § 1589 (c)(1) and (2) halted effective prosecution and actions for restitution and damages, and entertained stricter constructions then to allow for an effective legislative tool to prevent trafficking.

According to the Human Trafficking Legal Center's 2020 report (see, p. 10), over the span of 17 yeas, merely 458 cases were filed; the first five years of § 1595 from 2003, only saw 34 cases across the country.

The history of amendments, according to Cornell Law School's U.S. Code site is as follows:

"Added Pub. L. 108–193, § 4(a)(4)(A), Dec. 19, 2003, 117 Stat. 2878; amended Pub. L. 110–457, title II, § 221(2), Dec. 23, 2008, 122 Stat. 5067; Pub. L. 114–22, title I, § 120, May 29, 2015, 129 Stat. 247; Pub. L. 115–164, § 6, Apr. 11, 2018, 132 Stat. 1255.)

However, no links allow for the viewing of previous states of the statute to view its legislative history, and I am wondering what the actual content of these amendments were to reconstruct the legislative developments on the fight against the "contemporary manifestation of slavery" (Ditullio v. Boehm, 662 F.3d 1091, 1094 (9th Cir. 2011)).

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    You ask about 1595 but link to 1589. Also, did you read the "notes"? They offer more detail on the amendment history.
    – phoog
    Feb 13, 2022 at 23:53
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    Yes, I got stuck on “Subscription Services” and “WestLaw Nexis”. (I checked again to find there were “free & open source” links to the bills.
    – kisspuska
    Feb 14, 2022 at 0:48

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You can start with the 60th Congress, Sess II, Ch. 321, which is volume 35 of the statutes, p. 1088 (35 Stat. 1088). That commences Title 18, then you are in the relevant ballpark at 35 Stat. 1141. I know this because the US House tells me so (under historical and revision notes). Since it's not clear to me what exact (current) section / wording you are interested in, this might be a relevant starting point.

Assuming you want to know about the added definition in §1589(c), the House version points you to where that section was added, in 114 Stat. 1486 (turn the page to get the whole section). Then follow the hint about the later amendment in 122 Stat. 5068 – turn the page to get the rest of the amendment including the part you are interested in.

This is the weakest sense of "legislative history", in that is only says what words were enacted by what congressional act, and contains absolutely none of the "why". Insofar as that was from 2008, there might be some actual record, e.g. committee reports. The whole act tells you that this was H.R. 7311 of the 110th congress, which had 4 versions, and here is the original version, which took 1 day to go through Congress – the definition of "serious harm" is in both versions. C-span gives a few more lines of information, plus links to video of the "discussion" (there was none). The bill was sponsored by Howard Berman, who is not dead, so one might write nicely to him and ask who drafted that clause and especially why did they draft it. It is a separate question (outside the scope of what you asked) whether there were any unpleasant court rulings that arose from the omission of a definition.

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    "unpleasant court rulings" Oh yes, there were — some really shocking ones, in fact — that, judicial history of these sections, I've skimmed through.
    – kisspuska
    Feb 14, 2022 at 2:18

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