California Junior Leagues Take Action to Help Victims of Sexual Trafficking Clear Their Criminal Records
CalSPAC’s initiative highlights work done by Leagues’ state-level public affairs committees to influence legislation on behalf of women and children
New York, NY May 14, 2012 – The Junior Leagues of California State Public Affairs Committee (CalSPAC), which represents more than 11,000 members of 16 Junior Leagues across California, is co-sponsoring a bill in the California Assembly that would allow victims of human trafficking who have also been convicted of prostitution to petition California courts for a finding of factual innocence. Under the terms of the bill, a successful petition would mandate that the court not only set aside the conviction but also order that the arrest records be sealed and destroyed and notify the Department of Justice to do the same.
AB 1940, the name of the Assembly bill, is sponsored by Democratic Assemblyman Jerry Hill and has received bipartisan support. Cal-SPAC partnered with the Polaris Project, a national organization dedicated to combating human trafficking, in writing the bill’s language.
Delly Beekman, President of The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., said, “Individual Junior Leagues are powerful in their own communities but, by banding together, they can create even more impact by bringing the strength of their combined members to the state capital to advocate for change important to the health and well-being of at-risk women and children. What Cal-SPAC is doing in California is a wonderful example of what can happen when they do.”
Catherine Carlton, Cal-SPAC chair and a member of the Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula, added, “We want to thank Assemblyman Jerry Hill for bringing this matter to the attention of the Assembly, and to thank the Polaris Project for their valuable support. Sealing a record can help trafficking survivors avoid the stigma of being criminals when, in fact, they have been victims. Family, school officials, friends, colleagues, and employers perceive them differently if they are identified as victims, rather than criminals. Victims begin to see themselves differently; helping them heal as well as helping them secure a better education, a better job, and move on to a better life. After they escape from human trafficking, AB 1940 ensures that they are not victimized by their criminal record.”
California Assembly Member Jerry Hill added, “We have a moral obligation to improve the way California law treats victims of sex trafficking. That’s why I’ve introduced Assembly Bill 1940, which will allow these victims to petition the court to clear their record.”
AB 1940 will bring California laws up to federal standards. The federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), holds that victims should not inappropriately penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. Six other states have passed a similar bill to enable human trafficking victims to clear their trafficking-related arrest and criminal records.
The AB 1940 initiative follows Cal-SPAC’s earlier work on Assembly Concurrent Resolution (ACR) 105, which declared May as Perinatal Depression Awareness Month in California, and ACR 53, also known as the “Kelly Abraham Martinez Act,” which focuses on increasing awareness regarding the proactive measures that healthcare providers and women and their families can take to understand the risk factors and triggers for perinatal depression and how it can signal even more serious problems.
About The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc.
Founded in 1901 by New Yorker and social activism pioneer, Mary Harriman, the Junior Leagues are charitable nonprofit organizations of women, developed as civic leaders, creating demonstrable community impact.
Today, The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc. (AJLI) is comprised of more than 155,000 women in 293 Junior Leagues throughout Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom and the United States. Together, they constitute one of the largest, most effective volunteer organizations in the world.
About the Junior Leagues of California State Public Affairs Committee
For over 40 years, the Junior Leagues of California State Public Affairs Committee (Cal-SPAC), a non-partisan volunteer organization representing each of its member Leagues, has served as the collective voice of communities throughout California, including more than 11,000 voting Junior League women volunteers, the non-profit partners that they work with, and the women, children and families that their projects serve.
Junior League SPACs are also active in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington.
Tracy Van Buskirk
Main: (212) 537-5177 Ext. 8
Mobile: (203) 246-6165