January 26, 2017

Senator Hassan Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Provide Relief for Survivors of Human Trafficking

Senator Hassan Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation to Provide Relief for Survivors of Human Trafficking

WASHINGTON - This week, Senator Maggie Hassan cosponsored the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act, a bipartisan bill led by U.S. Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) which would help human trafficking victims by clearing any federal convictions for nonviolent crimes from criminal records. Earlier this month, Senator Hassan participated in the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations hearing on Backpage.com, where she condemned Backpage.com's knowing facilitation of online sex trafficking.

Human trafficking is a modern day form of slavery affecting millions in the United States and abroad. This crime involves either the use of force, fraud, or coercion to exploit a person for labor or commercial sex, or the exploitation of a minor for 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.

"I am proud to cosponsor the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act, an important step towards helping human trafficking victims recover by providing a clean slate from incidents that occurred as a result of being trafficked," said Senator Hassan. "As Governor, I worked across party lines to strengthen our laws against human trafficking, and this legislation builds on those critical efforts to help victims in the Granite State and across the country."

As Governor of New Hampshire, Senator Hassan signed several bipartisan bills into law to strengthen protections for human trafficking victims and increase penalties for perpetrators, including making it a Class B felony to purchase or agree to purchase a human trafficking victim under the age of 18 and requiring registration on the sex offender registry for persons convicted of human trafficking.

NOTE: The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act would establish a process for trafficking victims to 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.

###