January 30, 2019
(WASHINGTON, DC) – The Bowser Administration has joined jurisdictions around the country to raise awareness this January for National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Modern day slavery and human trafficking are violations of human decency. Trafficking cases involve the use of force, threats of force, fraud, and other forms of coercion to compel labor or services, including commercial sex acts, from victims.
“Due to the nature of the crime, it is difficult for us to quantify the scope of the problem in the District,” said DC Office of Victim Services and Justice Grants (OVSJG) Director Michelle M. Garcia. “It is not unusual for victims to access services, but never identify as a victim of trafficking out of fear, shame, or simply not knowing their situation meets the definition of trafficking.”
In order to address this complex crime, OVSJG funds community-based organizations who provide a wide range of services to trafficking victims/survivors, including crisis intervention, safety planning, advocacy, case management, civil and criminal legal services, counseling, and housing. In FY2018, OVSJG grantees provided support services to over 2,400 victim/survivors of human trafficking in the District. In FY2019, OVSJG has awarded over $750,000 in grants to organizations that will continue the Bowser administration’s effort to provide holistic services to all victims/survivors of human trafficking in the District.
In November 2018, Mayor Bowser signed the “Trafficking Survivors Relief Amendment Act of 2018.” This legislation will allow for the vacatur of convictions and expungement or sealing of criminal records for certain offenses when the conduct of the person was the direct result of the person having been a victim of trafficking.
“This bill follows in the steps of over 30 states that have enacted measures to seal, expunge, or vacate arrest and conviction records of human trafficking victims,” said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Kevin Donahue. “The bill supports Mayor Bowser’s proposal to reform the criminal record sealing process by making it more progressive and fair. We look forward to Congress approving this bill so that we can reduce the myriad of challenges faced by trafficking victims/survivors due to prior arrests or convictions, while ensuring continued safety for the victim and the public, and continuing to build a safer, stronger DC.”
For more information about National Slavery & Human Trafficking Prevention Month, visit ovsjg.dc.gov