Regent University’s Center for Global Justice Empowers Human Trafficking Survivors with Legal Support

NRB | October 12, 2023 | Member News

NRB member Regent University’s Center for Global Justice has launched a new clinic to help survivors of human trafficking rebuild and reclaim their lives.

Regent’s Center for Global Justice played a key role in enacting an important change in Virginia law, allowing survivors of human trafficking who had been previously convicted of prostitution-related misdemeanors to expunge these offenses from their records.

Meg Kelsey, Assistant Director of the Center for Global Justice

A former Virginia prosecutor who now serves as the assistant director of the Center for Global Justice, Meg Kelsey, recently filed a petition which seeks to erase specific criminal convictions for a survivor of sex trafficking. The Virginia vacatur law, which came into effect in July 2021, represents a vital step in extending a lifeline to human trafficking survivors.

“Victims of human trafficking often endure lasting consequences and trauma even after escaping their traffickers. Many of them bear criminal records as a direct consequence of their victimization,” stated Kelsey. “These records can be insurmountable barriers to finding employment, securing housing, and building a meaningful future. Our mission is to safeguard the vulnerable and empower survivors by restoring their path to the freedom they’ve longed for.”

In addition to filing petitions under the current law, the center is dedicated to advocating for the expansion of the vacatur law to cover a broader range of offenses. Many survivors are compelled by their traffickers to engage in drug-related activities, fraud, larceny, and even violence. Consequently, their criminal records extend beyond prostitution charges, which are a direct result of trafficking, and survivors are impacted by the consequent perceptions.

Olivia, a survivor of human trafficking and the inaugural client of the Center, expressed her profound relief at the prospect of having her criminal record expunged. “For it to be off my record and for a judge to actually acknowledge that we were wrong in the first place to convict me, it’s monumental,” said Olivia.

The Center for Global Justice is working towards making this vision a reality, striving to offer hope and redemption to survivors of human trafficking across the Commonwealth of Virginia, reminding them that they are not defined by their victimization and working to enshrine this fact in the law.

For more information about Regent University’s School of Law and the Center for Global Justice, visit Regent University’s School of Law and the Center for Global Justice.

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