Senators Introduce Bill To Expunge Criminal Records Of Trafficking Victims

U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Robert Portman (R-OH) introduced the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act from Harlem to the Hudson.

The bill would support victims and survivors of human trafficking and help them rebuild their lives.

Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery that involves 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.

Survivors of human trafficking are unfortunately commonly charged with crimes like conspiracy, prostitution, and drug trafficking that they are forced to commit as a direct result of being trafficked.

These charges hurt a survivor’s ability to start a new life and find jobs and housing, leaving them vulnerable to further exploitation. Under the Trafficking Survivors Relief Act, survivors of human trafficking would have non-violent criminal convictions that resulted from having been a trafficking victim vacated and expunged.


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“All too often, victims of human trafficking are forced by their captors to commit crimes. These victims cannot refuse and then face criminal charges,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “Congress has a responsibility to end this injustice. The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act would clear the non-violent criminal convictions of trafficking survivors and help them rebuild their lives with a fresh start.”

“During my time in the Senate I have met with many brave trafficking survivors in Ohio who have told me about how they were forced into commercial sex and then charged with a crime,” said Senator Robert Portman. “We must understand the coercive nature of trafficking and find a way to offer relief to a victims as they recover from the unimaginable trauma of being trafficked and sexually abused. This legislation is aimed at helping survivors get a fresh start as they build a life and overcome obstacles after being in the criminal justice system.”

The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act would also:

1.       Allow for an individual’s status as a victim of trafficking to be a mitigating factor for courts to consider when imposing a prison sentence for violent crimes.

2.       Require U.S. Attorneys to submit a report one year after enactment the number of motions filed under the law.

3.       Require the Government Accountability Office to conduct a report 3 years after the date of enactment of the law to assess how many human trafficking survivors have filed petitions and how many have been granted vacatur and/or expungement.

4.       Ensure that grant funding provided by the Office for Victims of Crime and the Office on Violence Against Women can be used for legal representation for post-conviction relief activities.



The Trafficking Survivors Relief Act is endorsed by FAIR Girls, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST), Freedom Network USA, and the National Survivor Network.

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