Survivors of human trafficking and prisoners have more in common than you might think. Both are members of marginalized groups whom society too often pushes aside and forgets. And while we are quick to think of human trafficking survivors only as victims, many of them have been convicted of crimes—and even served time in prison—as a result of being trafficked.
Our work on behalf of human trafficking survivors is one of our crowning achievements this year. OJPC staff attorney Sasha Appatova worked closely with Hamilton County Municipal Court Judge Heather Russell to set up a special court in Cincinnati to address the needs of human trafficking survivors, many of whom have been forced into prostitution. Often, these survivors are required by their traffickers to commit crimes, including prostitution, thefts and drug offenses. The special court allows survivors who have been convicted of crimes their traffickers forced them to commit to get those convictions expunged from their records.
Sasha represented the first client to have her entire criminal record expunged by the court. There wasn’t a dry eye in the courtroom as Sasha’s client described the horrors she experienced at the hands of her pimp, and how she hoped to put the past behind her and live a productive life. The story of redemption Sasha’s client told that day was powerful, compelling and deeply moving. You will read about one of these stories in this annual report.
You will also read about Eric Spar. Mr. Spar is an Ohio prisoner who suffered needlessly for two years because the Ohio prison system withheld from him a cost-effective remedy for his chronic and very painful digestive issues: Metamucil. Through our Constitutional Litigation Clinic at NKU Chase College of Law, we obtained a court order requiring prison officials to provide Mr. Spar with Metamucil. Though this case may seem insignificant to some, it was very important to Mr. Spar.
By fighting for him, we affirmed his humanity—one of the most precious things we give our clients. We hope this annual report will inspire you. We also hope that you will continue to support OJPC financially.