Assemblyman John Hambrick, D-Las Vegas, told the Assembly Committee of the Judiciary on Wednesday that these convictions pop up on background checks and often keep victims from landing employment elsewhere.
Hambrick said AB6 could remove this roadblock. If enacted, expunging the prostitution convictions would require victims to petition the court. Hambrick emphasized that this would be the extent of the requirements. “There would not be a plea bargain or false testimony to turn in someone or snitch on someone,” he said.
Current law focuses on individuals convicted of engaging in or soliciting prostitution outside of licensed houses of prostitution and grants the convicted two years to request a new trial if they can find new evidence.
AB6 is different because it focuses on men and women who were forced into prostitution. Hambrick said these women and men have often been kidnapped or sold and are “often prostituted out 15 times a day, six or seven days a week.” AB6 also eliminates the two-year window and says victims can petition courts once they are no longer in servitude.
Julie Janovsky, the senior policy specialist for the advocacy group Polaris Project, said background checks are what victims of sex-trafficking dread most during job interviews. “How do they defend they were convicted for prostitution?” she asked the committee. Janovsky said wiping way the prostitution convictions would help victims “move away from the abuse of their past.”
Jill Morris, director of Advocacy for the Not for Sale Campaign, said that job interviews aside, the current system tells victims they are criminals. Morris said wiping away the prostitution convictions would undo that.
Hambrick told the committee that AB6 will not compensate for the victims’ trauma but “we have got to start someplace.”
No action was taken on the bill.