Today, state Senators Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) gave sponsor testimony on Senate Bill 183, the Expanding Human Trafficking Justice Act. This legislation will remove the predicate offenses of solicitation, prostitution and loitering as requirements for survivors of human trafficking to be eligible to apply for criminal record expungement.
“Traffickers will often make their victims commit crimes not related to sexual activity such as theft, shoplifting, drug distribution, trespassing and, in some cases, drug trafficking. The victim has no choice or they can face extreme violence,” Fedor said. “Failure to receive an expungement prevents these survivors from getting stable housing, accessing certain social services, and finding gainful employment – all the things an individual needs to rebuild their life.”
The Expanding Human Trafficking Justice Act creates a path to expungement and removes barriers created by a criminal record. These expungement barriers create many collateral consequences for the individual but also our economy. This legislation would give survivors of human trafficking the opportunity to find work at a time when employers are trying to reopen and rebuild.
“We want to make clear that the individuals who would benefit from this change in statute are victims that committed crimes as a direct result of victimization,” said Kunze. “There are safeguards in the Revised Code to make sure that only human trafficking victims benefit from this statute change. This bill is a smart, simple solution to an outdated law that is holding back progress for survivors.”
You can follow the bill's progress here
Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) and Rep. Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville) have introduced companion legislation in the Ohio House of Representatives.