WSHINGTON, September 4, 2012 - How would you feel if you watched the news and heard a story about a victim of horrific crimes traumatized over and over by multiple people, then news anchor went on to say that after this terrible crime was committed the victim was arrested, more than once.
This is happening right now in our country, the United States. Victims of human trafficking who have already been traumatized and exploited by predators are being arrested.
If a victim somehow manages to escape the hands of their trafficker, the criminal record can follow them and negatively impact their lives. Employment, housing, education, loans, banking, credit, insurance, passports voting privileges and more are all effected by the stigma of a criminal record, a stigma that is hard if not impossible to erase.
Today only seven states in the United States allow survivors of human trafficking the ability to do just that; erase the criminal record resulting from human trafficking. New York, Vermont, Maryland, Washington State, Nevada, Hawaii and Illinois are presently the only states that have legislation in place which allows survivors of human sex trafficking who have been arrested while being trafficked to vacate those records. This important legislation is critical in offering support to survivors of human trafficking on their way to leading a new life.
Many minors who are trafficked and exploited are among those arrested for sex crimes. There is a mistaken belief that if a person is arrested as a minor, those records somehow magically disappear and do not effect the person later in life. This is not true. The record remains until it is vacated or expunged or sealed. Some states are considering legislation that would allow survivors to expunge their records.
Human trafficking victims have been exploited and trafficked by predators, arrested and criminalized by the police and the justice system then again by society. In the fight against trafficking, if we want to make sure that victims are able to rebuild and live productive lives, we have to make certain each and every state has the correct legislation in place that will allow them to vacate these criminal records they never should have gotten in the first place.
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