Bipartisan effort would empower survivors to escape, rebuild lives
State Rep. Ann Bollin today announced a sweeping bipartisan plan to support survivors of human trafficking and help them rebuild their lives after escaping their captors.
The measures were inspired by testimony given by survivors and others during a recent hearing of the Health and Human Services budget subcommittee, of which Bollin is a member.
“Human trafficking is happening right here in Michigan – in the same communities where we live, work and raise our families,” said Bollin, of Brighton Township. “We must take action to give victims hope and empower survivors to heal and move forward with their lives.”
The bipartisan plan would:
- Expand the types of criminal convictions that can be set aside if a crime was committed because someone is a victim of human trafficking.
- Allow human trafficking victims who were forced to engage in criminal activity the opportunity to use their victimization as an affirmative defense in court.
- Allow juvenile offenses committed by a young victim of trafficking to be expunged from their criminal record.
- Change references of “prostitution” to “commercial sexual activity” in state law.
- Update and clarify several court procedures for human trafficking cases.
“We’re committed to updating our state laws and removing barriers, so survivors of human trafficking can move on from the terrible experiences they have endured,” Bollin said. “These reforms ensure that vulnerable women, children and men who have been exploited are not wrongly penalized.”
Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing crimes in the world, second only to drug trafficking as the highest yielding form of crime, according to the U.S. Department of State. Approximately $87 million is made per day from sex trafficking transactions.
The plan has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration.
Rep. Bollin, who served as Brighton Township clerk prior to her election to the House, says changes announced by the Secretary of State Tuesday are not enough to provide Michigan residents with the level of services they deserve.