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05/23/2024 10:46 AM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: March 27, 2024 01:05 PM
From: Representative Melissa L. Shusterman and Rep. Joe Webster, Rep. Tarik Khan
To: All House members
Subject: Expanding Post Conviction Relief for Victims of Human Trafficking
Unfortunately, the first time that most trafficking survivors come into contact with law enforcement, they do so as individuals who have been arrested, not as crime victims. In 2016, the National Survivor Network found that 91 percent of trafficking survivors had been arrested. Many trafficking survivors are arrested for criminal acts that their trafficker orchestrated, whether it be for prostitution, possession of drugs, or identity theft.
To ensure that trafficking survivors in Pennsylvania are not legally punished for their victimization, I will be introducing legislation, a companion bill to Senator Muth’s Senate Bill 88. This legislation would allow survivors of human trafficking to apply to the court to vacate their criminal history records related to their trafficking. Specifically, this legislation would expand the existing list of eligible offenses to include theft by deception and retail theft, as well as contempt for certain specified criminal acts. It would also no longer require that the District Attorney consent to a victim’s motion to vacate an eligible conviction.
Criminally charging victims of trafficking only adds to the burdens of trauma and stigmatization that these individuals will have to face. We need to take action to ensure that we do not create additional barriers for trafficking survivors to obtain employment, safe housing, education, and financial security. Please join me in supporting those who have already survived the worst that humanity has to offer.