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Wagner, Scanlon Introduce Legislation to Deliver Justice For Human Trafficking Survivors

Aug 28, 2020
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today, Representatives Ann Wagner (R-MO) and Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA) introduced the Protecting Access to Justice for Survivors Act to improve access to legal representation for survivors through Department of Justice grants.

According to the Human Trafficking Hotline,  there were 11,500 cases of human trafficking reported in the United States in 2019. Of those cases, nearly 9,357  cases involved women. 

Too often, survivors of human trafficking are arrested, detained, prosecuted, convicted, and sometimes incarcerated or deported, without ever receiving justice or being recognized as a survivor of human trafficking. The National Survivor Network reported in 2016 that 91 percent of 130 trafficking survivor respondents reported having been arrested. The Protecting Access to Justice for Survivors Act ensures that survivors have access to legal representation during these proceedings. 

“Victims of trafficking have suffered enough, but some victims are sadly arrested or prosecuted for crimes they were forced to commit,” Rep. Wagner said. “We must do more to protect trafficking victims from unfair criminal records and ensure survivors have the legal assistance they need to navigate the criminal justice system. I am grateful for the opportunity to stand with survivors and introduce this bipartisan legislation to prevent further victimization and give survivors a clean slate and second chance at life.”

“Human trafficking is a tragedy that continues to occur in our communities every single day,” Rep. Scanlon said. “All too often, victims are arrested for crimes that are a result of being trafficked, and are unable to get the legal representation necessary to clear their records and get a clean start in life. I'm proud to be joined by Rep. Wagner in introducing this bill which would allow DOJ funds to be used for the legal representation of these survivors. We believe that every person deserves access to justice.” 

The Protecting Access to Justice For Survivors Act would: 

  • Allow Department of Justice (DOJ) grants to be used for legal representation without prohibiting recipients from using funds for post-conviction relief proceedings including proceedings relating to vacatur, expungement, record-stealing, or other post-conviction relief measures
  • Require the DOJ to provide an annual report to House and Senate Judiciary Committees on the details of the program's usage

A copy of the bill can be found here.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.