LANSING—Sen. John Proos’ legislation to help support victims of human trafficking by enabling them to clear certain criminal records was recently approved by the Michigan Senate.
“Human trafficking in Michigan is real and its devastating thousands of Michigan lives each year in hometowns throughout our state,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph. “The secretive nature of human trafficking and an insufficient amount of public awareness about the issue make this a tough fight. But it’s a fight worth winning, and I am proud to be a part of a bipartisan, comprehensive effort to combat human trafficking in Michigan and support its victims.”
On Dec. 12, the Senate approved the first of Proos’ three measures, Senate Bill 591. The bill would give victims an opportunity for a hearing where a judge could clear convictions from their record if the offenses were committed as a result of being trafficked.
“These people are victims of a crime and a judge should have the ability to evaluate each person’s circumstance,” Proos said
Cathy Knauf, founder of the Southwest Michigan Human Trafficking Task Force, testified in November in support of Proos’ bill.
“Human trafficking, also known as modern day slavery, is the fastest-growing criminal enterprise in the nation and currently ranks third only surpassed by drugs and guns,” Knauf said. “This united effort of lawmakers and state and regional task forces is raising public awareness about this dire issue and addressing the need for the changes in recognition and laws.”
Two other human trafficking measures were also approved by the Senate. SB 584, sponsored by Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, would eliminate the statute of limitations for any human trafficking or commercial sexual exploitation of children offenses. SB 588, sponsored by Sen. Mark Jansen, R-Grand Rapids, would allow a human trafficking victim who is being prosecuted for prostitution to introduce evidence of their experience as an affirmative defense, if the crime was committed as a result of having been trafficked.
Information about human trafficking, including how to identify and report it, is available on the attorney general’s website at: www.michigan.gov/humantrafficking.
SBs 584, 588 and 591 have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Editor’s Note – Audio comments by Sen. Proos are available on the senator’s webpage at www.SenatorJohnProos.com. Click on “Podcasts.”