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Ohio lawmakers to introduce anti-human trafficking legislation

Published: Mar. 11, 2021 at 12:34 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - A bi-partisan effort from Ohio State Senators seeks to make it easier for victims of human trafficking to get their criminal records expunged.

State Senators Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo), Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard), and state representative Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) announced the introduction of legislation called the Expanding Human Trafficking Justice Act on Thursday. If passed, it would remove the predicate offenses required for victims of human trafficking to qualify for expungement of their records in Ohio.

The lawmakers were joined by Sasha Naiman, the Deputy Director of the Ohio Justice & Policy Center. She explained that survivors who are not convicted of predicate offenses are not eligible to have their records cleared, which creates barriers for victims throughout their lives -- hindering access to jobs, education, and other opportunities. According to Sen. Galonski, approximately 20% of human trafficking survivors who have requested an expungement do not have qualifying offenses.

Naiman said many survivors are forced to commit crimes by their trafficker and shouldn’t be punished further for those acts. The current policy places a heavy burden on survivors to prove they were victims of trafficking and that crimes were a result of that situation, according to the Ohio Justice & Policy Center. That lengthy process can be retraumatizing for victims. The lawmakers hope this legislation benefits survivors on a practical and emotional level by giving more of them a chance at a clean slate.

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