The Human Trafficking Prevention Project (HTPP) seeks to reduce the collateral consequences of criminal justice involvement for survivors of human trafficking, who often have records of prostitution or other related charges, exacerbating their victimization. With Abell Foundation support, HTPP is transitioning from a clinical law program at the University of Baltimore School of Law to an independent nonprofit organization, enabling it to serve significantly more clients.
Beginning in 2015, UB student attorneys provided direct legal representation to survivors of trafficking who were seeking to vacate, expunge, or shield charges on their criminal records. Student attorneys also assisted clients with quashing warrants and represented survivors convicted of federal crimes stemming from their trafficking experience in federal and state clemency and pardon petitions. In 2016, HTPP expanded to include a partnership with Maryland Volunteer Lawyers Service to address civil legal needs of trafficking survivors. These needs include cases related to divorce and child custody, denial of housing or other public benefits, and consumer debt matters.
With funding from the Abell Foundation, the organization is staffed by an executive director, two staff attorneys, and a paralegal. This transition and staff expansion increases HTPP’s direct representation of clients by an additional 80 individuals, on top of the more than 200 it traditionally has served each year. HTPP will be able to maintain and expand its presence in Baltimore City, adding two to four additional outreach locations where it will provide on-site legal assistance and referrals. Meeting with potential clients at a familiar location where they have already developed trust removes one of the many barriers that survivors face when accessing services.
In addition to providing direct legal services to clients, HTPP provides approximately 30 trainings to attorneys annually, teaching them how to petition the court to vacate trafficking-related criminal convictions under Maryland’s criminal record relief law and how to petition for expungement of qualifying offenses, which would remove portions of their client’s criminal records from public inspection.
Photos courtesy of HTPP.