The Latest

THE LATEST

THE LATEST THINKING

THE LATEST THINKING

The opinions of THE LATEST’s guest contributors are their own.

Another State Takes a Step in the Right Direction

W. Scott Cole

Posted on August 20, 2020 03:58

1 user

Little by little, survivors of sex trafficking are finding hope and help toward healing with a chance to live a more normal life. That chance at a better life is something they have earned. More and more states are quietly taking steps to help those women toward that goal.

The main problem the victims of sex trafficking have is the same one over three million other people have in this country. A criminal record. These women don’t just get trafficked. Most of them are arrested multiple times for prostitution. Among other crimes, most end up with a record for are drugs and theft. Some end up with records for trafficking themselves because their pimp (who literally owns them) orders them to search out and entice others into being trafficked.

Before you start thinking all she has to do is tell the police after an arrest, think about it for a moment. Fear is a very powerful motivator and after a few years of brainwashing, most of these victims are convinced that if they talk, their owner will find them and they will end their days in extreme pain … if he allows them to die.

After they are rescued, these women find themselves in the same situation as any other person with a criminal record. It’s harder to find and keep a job, harder to find housing, and just the prostitution arrests mean unscrupulous bosses and landlords will suggest ways they can keep their job or pay their rent. In many ways, life does not get easier for trafficked women after they are rescued.

Fortunately, states are beginning to recognize this problem and have very quietly been passing laws to make getting back to something resembling a normal life easier. Since 2010, 43 states and the District of Columbia have taken steps to end the continued victimization of rescued victims by passing laws that allow the women to have their records sealed or expunges with some allowing vacatur.

Vacatur is a path a court can take to go beyond sealing or expunging records. It allows a court to wipe the slate clean, erasing even arrests.  Although these women will always have mental, emotional, and even physical scars for the rest of their lives, if they can put their past behind them without constant reminders, the scars, like any scar, will fade with time.

I am happy to say that the number has recently climbed to 44 states, with Texas jumping on the bandwagon. The state now has a customized clemency application, with domestic abuse victims also being allowed to apply and that application can lead to a full pardon for any crimes committed while under the influence of a trafficker or abusive partner.

This is important because these laws lay out a trail for women who might not have otherwise had a criminal record to find, if not redemption, at least restoration. It means they don’t have to wonder any more when society is going to knock them back to the bottom of the ladder, where they are just trying to survive from day to day.

These women have earned it.

W. Scott Cole

Posted on August 20, 2020 03:58

Comments

comments powered by Disqus

On Monday, I will sign the criminal justice reform bill into law--but a portion of Senate Bill 91 needs to be fixed. The...

THE LATEST THINKING

Video Site Tour

The Latest
The Latest

Subscribe to THE LATEST Newsletter.

The Latest
The Latest

Share this TLT through...

The Latest