This week, state Senators Teresa Fedor (D-Toledo) and Stephanie Kunze (R-Hilliard) introduced 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.
“This legislation will eliminate survivors’ criminal records and allow them to restart their lives,” Fedor said. “The change is simple, but will go a long way in helping survivors to start building their future. Ohio is already doing a great job of rescuing those suffering at the hands of traffickers. Now, we need to do better at helping the survivors get their lives, which were derailed at no fault of their own, back on track.”
The Expanding Human Trafficking Justice Act creates a path to expungement and removes barriers created by a criminal record. These barriers include access to stable housing, education and job opportunities. Most colleges have a code of conduct and perform background checks on students, while many housing programs exclude those with a criminal record. Job applicants are also often asked about previous convictions. This legislation would give survivors of human trafficking the opportunity to find work at a time when many employers are struggling to fill vacancies.
“Although we have accomplished a great deal, we cannot let up on fighting human trafficking from all sides of the issue," said Kunze. "I am once again proud to work alongside my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help victims of these heinous crimes get their lives back.”
You can follow the bill's progress here
Rep. Tavia Galonski (D-Akron) and Rep. Tracy Richardson (R-Marysville) will be introducing companion legislation in the Ohio House of Representatives.