State offering second chance for sex trafficking, domestic abuse - FOX34 Lubbock

State offering second chance for sex trafficking, domestic abuse survivors

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

"In a way, they're still a slave to their trafficker even when they get out of this life," Leslie Timmons with Voice of Hope said.

Survivors of sex trafficking now have an opportunity from the state to start over.

Governor Abbott established a new customized clemency application last Thursday, that could lead to a full pardon for crimes committed by a person while under the influence of a trafficker or an abusive partner. 

"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," the Governor said in a statement.

Victims often end up in trouble with the law, in order to survive. 

"They're in survival mode constantly. They're trying to make it day to day," Timmons said. "They will do anything they have to do to survive and that means being in this life."

According to the National Survivors Network, 9 out of 10 trafficking survivors have been arrested.

More than 40 percent, were taken in by police 9 times or more.

These past actions can have a major effect on their life, long after they have escaped the abuse.  

"They can't apply for a job, or rent, or you know it could be unpaid bills that they're responsible for," Timmons said.

Survivors who have been convicted of a crime may now fill out this 13-page application, which provides a space for them to tell their story of abuse.

The experts say it's not a perfect solution but it's a step in the right direction.

"This is all after the fact. The clemency is after the fact, and it's an application and it still has to be approved," Timmons said. "We hope to be more proactive, than reactive." 

Applicants who fill out the form will be considered by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles in order to be granted clemency.

The governor's announcement also includes a new public awareness campaign that will educate survivors on how to submit the application.

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