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05/23/2024 12:42 PM
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: March 27, 2024 01:07 PM
From: Representative Melissa L. Shusterman and Rep. Joe Webster, Rep. Tarik Khan
To: All House members
Subject: Affirmative Defense for Survivors of Human Trafficking
Pennsylvania currently has an affirmative defense statute that allows survivors of prostitution to defend themselves against charges of prostitution as a direct result of human trafficking; however, victims of human trafficking are not able to use an affirmative defense for other crimes they commit while being trafficked. My legislation, a companion bill to Senator Dush’s and Senator Phillips-Hill’s Senate Bill 890, would give survivors of human trafficking access to an affirmative defense for crimes committed as a direct result of that trafficking. 
Human trafficking victims may be forced by their abusers to commit crimes, or they may be faced with the difficult choice of committing a crime to escape their abusive circumstances. Numerous cases of trafficking survivors defending themselves against their traffickers and patrons have surfaced in the last decade. Piper Lewis was fifteen years old when she stabbed a buyer who repeatedly raped her. Chrystul Kizer was seventeen years old when she killed the man who raped her repeatedly and then trafficked her to others. Instead of providing support and sympathy for these individuals, these survivors usually face criminal charges for protecting themselves from those who have hurt them in the most despicable ways.
We cannot, in good conscience, allow this blatant injustice to continue. Please join me in co-sponsoring this long-overdue legislation to give this vulnerable population a well-deserved voice in the criminal justice system.

Introduced as HB2227