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Washington Legislature Passes Bill To Allow Human Trafficking Victims To Clear Record

Flickr Photo/publik16 (CC-BY-NC-ND)

A new human trafficking bill passed the state Legislature Monday that will allow victims who were forced into prostitution to clear their records of prostitution charges.

Removing one conviction has already been the law for a couple years. But now, a victim is able to get more than one charge vacated.

Advocacy groups and law enforcement say that’s important because these young men and women often cycle through many convictions during their time in what’s known as "the life" – their years walking the streets.

These victims are under the thumb of a pimp who is using coercion to keep them there.

State Representative Roger Goodman said the Senate made changes to his and Representative Tina Orwall’s bill by adding a lengthy amendment, which spells out many steps a person has to take to show that he or she was a victim. Goodman said he’s satisfied with the outcome.

“These victims of sex trafficking are not necessarily the most sophisticated. In fact they might have been naïve to be recruited into this and then victimized. The Senate amendments add a lot more requirements for the victims to prove to the court [that they were victimized]," Goodman said. "It is a little bit more prescriptive than we would like but it does provide this opportunity to clear their records and move on with their lives."

Goodman said he is satisfied with this amendment – especially because there was another element to the bill that he didn’t think would make it through; that is, that a victim cannot get a prostitution conviction cleared if he or she has another pending prostitution charge.