Fedor Commends Release of Alexis Martin, Urges Passage of S.B. 13
April 21, 2020
Today, state Senator Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) commended the release of human trafficking survivor Alexis Martin as part of Governor DeWine’s measures to reduce the spread of Covid-19 in Ohio prisons, adding that it demonstrates the urgent need to expand Safe Harbor protections.
“I am proud of Governor DeWine’s decision to release Alexis. She should have been protected by Safe Harbor Laws from the beginning, but due to lack of knowledge on the law, Ohio failed her,” said Senator Fedor. “I felt personally responsible because I wrote the Safe Harbor laws, and I have been working ever since to right this wrong.”
At age 17, Martin was given a 21-year prison sentence after being charged in connection with her trafficker’s murder. In 2016, she sent Fedor a letter asking for support in her appeal. Fedor sent an affidavit of legislative intent to help the courts understand the purpose of the law, as well as a letter to then Attorney General DeWine and former Governor John Kasich asking for Alexis’s clemency.
Though Fedor is grateful that Alexis was finally given justice, she said that more work must be done to ensure that other children are not put in a similar situation.
Safe Harbor laws protect trafficked children from criminalization and provide access to wrap-around services, including physical and mental health care, appropriate housing, medical assistance and short-term shelter. Ohio is the only state in the U.S. that does not grant Safe Harbor protections to 16-and 17-year-old minors, but Fedor’s Senate Bill 13 would change that by extending protections to all trafficked children.
The bill was passed unanimously by the Senate in July 2019. The bill is currently stalled in the House Criminal Justice committee, but Fedor says its passage before the end of the year should be a priority for the chamber when it returns from recess.
“I met with Alexis in February. We laughed together, cried together, enjoyed some snacks and just got to know each other. I am relieved to know that Alexis will finally be free—she is an amazing young woman with big aspirations and I look forward to seeing what she will accomplish in her life,” Fedor said. “I urge the House to pass this legislation as soon as possible. We must protect all children in Ohio by providing clarity on the Safe Harbor process and making sure no one else falls through the cracks.”