At Manchester Police Department, Shaheen discusses her bill to support recovery and rehabilitation of human trafficking survivors

March 13, 2015

(MANCHESTER, NH) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) this afternoon hosted a roundtable at the Manchester Police Department with several law enforcement officials and crisis professionals for a discussion on the prevalence of human trafficking in New Hampshire. The coalition also discussed best ways to combat trafficking in the state and support survivors, including through Shaheen’s recently introduced legislation. Shaheen was joined this afternoon by Manchester Police Chief David Mara and Sgt. Paul Thompson of the Domestic Violence Unit, Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice, State Senator Donna Soucy and other state and local officials.

“Discussions like these are an essential part of addressing what is unfortunately a serious problem in New Hampshire,” Shaheen said. “In New Hampshire there are too many heartbreaking cases of human trafficking, and we need to act in a comprehensive fashion to combat and prevent human trafficking so we can save lives and strengthen our communities.

“We also need to be thinking about how we support victims, which is why I introduced legislation to help survivors rebuild their lives,” Shaheen continued. “The Human Trafficking Survivors Relief and Empowerment Act will help trafficking survivors free themselves from the social stigma associated with their victimization and rebuild their lives as productive members of society.”

Shaheen’s legislation, which she also offered as an amendment to bipartisan human trafficking legislation currently under consideration in the Senate, would encourage states to provide human trafficking survivors with the opportunity to clear their criminal records of charges associated with human trafficking through vacating conviction statutes.

While New Hampshire is one of 20 states with such a vacatur law, Shaheen’s legislation would incentivize other states to enact similar laws that would allow survivors to expunge their records of charges for crimes they can reasonably demonstrate were the result of being trafficked – such as prostitution, loitering and trespassing. Records of these crimes, often the result of physical and emotional torture, can follow survivors for life and can block access to safe housing, gainful employment, loans and education. 

“Thank you to Senator Shaheen for taking time to discuss the issue of Human Trafficking at the Manchester Police Department,” said Manchester Police Chief David Mara. “More importantly, for understanding the need for funding to combat the issue of human trafficking and the related drug use-specifically heroin involved in these crimes."

Representatives from the New Hampshire Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Franklin and Portsmouth Police Departments also participated in this afternoon’s roundtable.