COLUMBUS—On Wednesday, State Senator Bill Beagle (R-Tipp City) announced the passage of legislation aimed at providing common sense criminal justice reforms to give victims of human trafficking an opportunity to rebuild their lives.

The legislation, co-sponsored by Senator Beagle, complements a series of bills passed over the last several years focusing on the eradication of human trafficking through better enforcement, increased penalties for perpetrators and greater public awareness. 

"The sad reality is that modern-day slavery has existed as a criminal enterprise here in Ohio for many years," said Beagle. "As these victims step out of the shadows—away from the grasps of coercion and criminal activity—they often struggle to rebuild. This legislation provides an opportunity for them to obtain employment and create a better life for themselves and their families."

Convictions stemming from coerced behavior, such as prostitution, can negatively impact the victim's ability to apply for a job or seek permanent housing. A defendant’s information is still accessible as a court record even when the individual was found not guilty, or the case was dismissed.

Senate Bill 4 offers hope for human trafficking victims. If an individual commits certain crimes as a result of his or her victimization, this legislation would allow for expungement of those offenses from the victim's criminal record. 

Additionally, the bill would permit victims of compelled prostitution to apply for intervention in lieu of conviction, an option that is afforded to human trafficking victims under current law.

Investing in Safer Schools

The Senate also passed legislation co-sponsored by Senator Beagle providing Ohio's school districts a new, alternative option for accessing state support for facility needs like technology infrastructure, safety features or additional classroom space for a growing student population.

Senate Bill 8 creates a new 1:1 match option for schools that have not yet received any state support or entered into an agreement with the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission, which is approximately 229 districts.

Since 1997, Ohio has dedicated more than $11.5 billion in state aid to update and improve school facilities across the state.

Both Senate Bill 4 and Senate Bill 8 now go to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

 
 
 
  
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