Texas human trafficking, domestic abuse survivors can now apply for full pardons

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The American and Texas flags fly outside the Texas Capitol on Feb. 5, 2020. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott created a customized clemency application specifically for human trafficking and domestic violence survivors that may grant them full pardons for offenses.

The announcement states that victims are often shackled by their offenses, leading them to further abuse and crime.

“Texas is committed to empowering the survivors of domestic abuse and human trafficking, and one of the surest signals of that goal is laying out a true path to redemption and restoration,” said Abbott. “The gubernatorial pardon plays an important role in this redemption process, because it offers a second chance to survivors with criminal convictions resulting from their abuse or exploitation.”

The application will operate in coordination with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Back in January, Abbott pardoned a sex trafficking survivor on Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

SAFE Alliance, a survivor’s resource organization, opened a drop-in center for Austin youth ages 12-22 back in April 2019. The center offers young people who have experienced abuse and trafficking meals, therapy, job search help, peer groups, case management and community.

In January, Allison Franklin, director of SAFE’s CARES program that manages the center, told KXAN’s Alyssa Goard how surviving commercial sexual exploitation had impacted her life.

“The unfortunate reality of it is, oftentimes you know individuals such as myself are viewed as offenders and criminals. I was actually criminalized for my own victimization, for the most part. Not to say I didn’t get services,” Franklin explained.

She said that having a criminal record sabotaged her attempts to move on with her life.

“I had acquired multiple felonies while under the oppression of my trafficker,” Franklin said. “Making it extremely difficult to obtain employment, housing, and financial aid; there were also numerous other barriers that limited my economic agency.”

If you believe you may be a victim of human trafficking or have information about a potential situation, you can call the National Human Trafficking Resource Center at (888) 373-7888 or submit a tip at the NHTRC’s website here.

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