Last year, 289 trafficking cases from Ohio were reported to national hotlines – a tiny fraction of the actual trafficked population. A study by the Ohio Attorney General finds that over 1,000 children are victims of sex trafficking every year statewide; plus, many more victims are adults. Traffickers force people to commit crimes like drug use, theft, and prostitution. When survivors escape, their long criminal records create lifelong barriers to employment, housing, education, civic participation, and family reunification. In Ohio, over 900 ‘collateral consequences’ limit all aspects of life, from jobs to recreation, for people with records (civiccohio.org).
Survivors of human trafficking need to become fully-reintegrated, empowered members of the community. OJPC helps survivors to overcome criminal-records-based barriers through: record sealing, Certificates of Qualification for Employment, Safe Harbor expungements, pardons, and more.
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Help with your criminal record
Do you or someone you know have prostitution-related offenses on your criminal record? OJPC can help. Contact attorney Sasha Naiman (firstname.lastname@example.org or 513-421-1108 x 20) for assistance. You can learn more about the OJPC’s new initiative to address the unique needs of trafficking survivors below.
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Legislation to help survivors
In June 2012, the Ohio Legislature created a new expungement process under the Safe Harbor Law (H.B. 262; R.C. 2953.38). The law recognizes that sex trafficking victims are compelled through force, fear, duress, intimidation, or fraud to participate in illegal acts. Consequently, survivors can erase records of convictions.
Then, in 2018, the Ohio Legislature clarified the options for trafficking survivors to expunge and seal their records. Senate Bill 4 passed through the House and Senate with strong support on both sides of the aisle.
“This is not a partisan issue,” Rep. Teresa Fedor, of Toledo, said. “It’s a comprehensive combatting of something so evil in our society. This can’t stop at the ‘R’ and ‘D.’”
Expunged records are completely destroyed, so no one can ever see them ever again. Expungement opens doors to empowerment, recovery, employment, housing, education, family relationships, and successful reintegration into the community.