LB 1132, introduced by Senator Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln and prioritized by Senator Dan Quick of Grand Island, passed today in the Nebraska State Legislature. The bill will allow trafficking survivors to come forward and have convictions, for crimes they were forced to commit, set aside and the public records sealed. The bill will be presented to the Governor and awaits his action.
“With this bill, the Nebraska Legislature has made a commitment to support survivors of sex trafficking to have a pathway to rebuild their lives free from violence. Survivor leaders have identified post-conviction relief laws as a crucial next step in ensuring that trafficking survivors have real opportunities to achieve economic self-sufficiency,” said Meghan Malik, Women’s Fund of Omaha trafficking project manager. “This bill is one step in the right direction toward providing a legal environment that accounts for the harsh realities that survivors of sex trafficking face.”
The stigma trafficking survivors carry because of their criminal records makes it significantly harder for them to re-integrate into society. Background checks can prevent those who are no longer being trafficked from successfully securing housing, employment and education. As a result of LB 1132, if the court finds that the survivor was a victim of trafficking and that their crime was a result of such victimization, the conviction will be set aside and will not follow survivors as they take steps to rebuild their lives.
“This bill represents the next important step in our battle against sex trafficking in Nebraska by providing opportunities for survivors to rebuild their lives,” Senator Pansing Brooks said. “In past years, I have led efforts to provide legal immunity from prostitution charges for trafficking survivors and impose tougher sentences on sex buyers and traffickers. Through this latest important step, we are helping survivors who are unfairly penalized for the criminal malfeasance of their traffickers.”
In addition to research and advocating for effective policy changes, the Women’s Fund of Omaha is committed to a comprehensive approach to ending sex trafficking including strengthening survivor leadership, creating cross-sector coalitions, increasing education and awareness, and enhancing service provider capacity.
To stop trafficking, community-wide action is needed. If you see something, say something. Call the National Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.