Victims of human trafficking are often forced into a life of crime, but a bill has recently passed both the Ohio House and Senate.
That bill would allow those victims to have their criminal record expunged. The bill is now headed for Governor John Kasich’s desk. Here in the Ohio Valley, two agencies, Tri-County Help Center and Harmony House, are in favor of the legislation.
“Could be things like prostitution, could be drug paraphernalia, it could be other drug crimes, it could be things like petty theft. Things of that nature that they are being forced to do,” said Harmony House Executive Director, Debra Hawkins.
Michele Helms with Tri-County Help Center said, ” This will allow them to come forward knowing that the crimes that they may have been forced to commit that they will be able to have those expunged from their record so they’ll be more apt to be willing to come forward, so they’ll be able to have gainful employment and be able to be productive citizens–opportunities that they wouldn’t have had if these crimes were on their record.”
Senate Bill 4 is now set to go to the governor.
Supporters said our legal system still sometimes compounds the harm already suffered by the victim, and this would do something to change that.