For Immediate Release
AUGUSTA - State Representative Amy Volk (R-Scarborough) has introduced a bill that would make Maine the fifteenth state to allow courts to vacate the prostitution convictions of human trafficking victims, joining Connecticut and Vermont in this growing movement to prevent women from being penalized for falling victim to the underground human trafficking trade.
"These are young women, many of them new to this country, who are being forced into prostitution rings against their will and then branded for life with a criminal conviction," said Rep. Volk. "We should be helping them to rebuild their lives, not punishing them for actions beyond their control."
Rep. Volk worked with the Polaris Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting human trafficking, to craft the bill. She said she was inspired to do something after a report by the organization ranked Maine in the bottom half of states for anti-trafficking laws.
A bill signed into law this year by Gov. Paul LePage helped move Maine up from Tier 3 to Tier 2 in the 2013 Polaris report, but Volk says Maine can still do more to protect human trafficking victims.
"We can't naively think that we're safe here in Maine, and these are other states' problems," she said. Calls from Maine to the Polaris Project's human trafficking hotline have more than doubled since 2010, according to a recent Bangor Daily News report.
"Human trafficking is on the rise in Maine, and we need to be proactive in helping victims because one life shattered by this horrendous crime is one life too many," added Volk.
Maine House Republicans
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