Legal Aid and ABA Awarded Grant to Provide National Training and Technical Assistance on Post-Conviction Advocacy for Human Trafficking Survivors

The Legal Aid Society is pleased to share that the Office for Victims of Crime at the Department of Justice announced last month its plans to fund a joint initiative of the American Bar Association and The Legal Aid Society that will provide national training and technical assistance on post-conviction advocacy for survivors of human trafficking.

As part of a $44 million funding effort, the ABA will receive a two-year grant to develop and implement the Survivor Reentry Project, with the goal of improving criminal justice advocacy across the country modeled on the groundbreaking efforts of the Exploitation Intervention Project at The Legal Aid Society and its partners‎ in New York. Kate Mogulescu, Director of Legal Aid's Exploitation Intervention Project, will serve as the primary consultant on the project.

The Exploitation Intervention Project has vacated over 750 criminal convictions for survivors of trafficking using New York's Vacating Convictions Law, CPL 440.10(1)(i), which was enacted in 2010. Since then, 26 additional states have passed similar laws. The Survivor Reentry Project will work across the country to build the practice under these laws and will provide in-depth training in 6-9 national jurisdictions as well as basic skills training for public defenders, legal services lawyers, pro bono attorneys, and other stakeholders.

Most thrilling about this project is that it continues to push the national conversation on both criminal justice and anti-trafficking reform in a direction that takes into account the harmful consequences of criminalization and reflects the complexity of our clients' lives. Although well understood by those of us that serve indigent criminal defendants on a daily basis, it is important that the victimization our clients experience be recognized more broadly.

We express our thanks to both the American Bar Association and the Office for Victims of Crime for their recognition of this critical issue. And we congratulate Kate and the EIP team.