January 26, 2017

Cortez Masto Co-Sponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Clear Criminal Records for Human Trafficking Victims

Bill Would Provide Relief to Victims of Sex Trafficking, Labor Trafficking, and Other Forms of Human Trafficking

Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) is co-sponsoring the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act, bipartisan legislation that would help human trafficking victims by clearing any federal convictions for nonviolent crimes from criminal records. The legislation, led by U.S. Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), would increase support for victims of human trafficking by clearing victims’ records of any nonviolent crimes they committed as the result of being trafficked. Human trafficking crimes involve either the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit a person or minor to commit crimes or partake in illegal labor or commercial sex. As a result of being trafficked, victims are commonly charged with crimes such as conspiracy, money laundering, drug trafficking, and related offenses that then follow them for the rest of their lives. These charges make it difficult for human trafficking victims to find jobs and housing, leaving them vulnerable to being exploited and trafficked again.

“It is unacceptable that current policies allow human trafficking victims to be punished for actions they were forced to carry out while subjected to modern day slavery,” said Cortez Masto. “This commonsense legislation will help ensure victims are put on the path to becoming survivors without facing unnecessary consequences for actions they were forced to commit. I was proud to champion legislation in Nevada that cracked down on sex trafficking in our state, and will continue fighting on a federal level to eradicate this modern day slavery. Human trafficking is a heinous problem that is not restricted by state or country borders, and we must do everything possible to put an end to these crimes.”

The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act would clear from criminal records any federal convictions for nonviolent crimes committed as a result of being trafficked. It would require victims to provide supporting documentation in order to get their non-violent criminal records vacated. These documents can include the following:

  • Certified criminal or immigration court proceedings or law enforcement records demonstrating that the individual was a victim of trafficking at the time they were charged with the trafficking-related offense(s);
  • Testimony or sworn statement from a trained professional staff member of a victim services organization, an attorney, member of the clergy, a health care professional, a therapist, or other professional from whom the person has sought assistance in addressing the trauma associated with being a victim of trafficking; or
  • An affidavit or sworn testimony of the movant indicating that they were a victim of human trafficking at the time of their arrest and that they engaged in or were otherwise accused of engaging in criminal activities as a direct result of being a victim of human trafficking.