Sandré R. Swanson
A law designed to help sexually exploited minors make a fresh start, AB 2040 by Assemblymember Sandré R. Swanson (D-Alameda), was signed into law this week by Governor Jerry Brown.
“Between 100,000 and 300,000 children — some as young as five years old — are prostituted in the United States every year. (This law) makes it a little easier for these former victims to clean up their records once they turn 18, increasing their ability to integrate back into society and a safe environment,” Swanson said.
Under the old law, once a person turns 18, he or she may petition a court to seal their juvenile records if he or she has not subsequently been convicted of a felony or misdemeanour and can establish rehabilitation.
Swanson explained that these conditions are unreasonable in cases of victims of human trafficking charged with prostitution offenses. “It doesn’t make sense to require a person who was forced into prostitution as a minor to demonstrate rehabilitation in order to clean up his or her records,” he said.
“What kind of evidence could a person who was sexually victimized as a child offer to show rehabilitation? It just doesn’t make any legal or common sense to require victims to prove they have been rehabilitated from a crime that was committed against them.”
AB 2040 is an important fix to a major problem for these victims, Swanson said. “We need to give these former victims a chance to seal their records without making them jump through burdensome hoops. Our state should be doing everything it can to help these victims get jobs and live productive lives.”
The bill was supported by the Junior Leagues of California; City of Oakland; California Probation, Parole and Correctional Association; California State PTA; and the California Catholic Conference.