Faculty: Professor Jessica Emerson
There is a growing awareness that victims of human trafficking are often arrested and prosecuted for crimes they are forced to commit by their traffickers. The burden of a criminal conviction saddles trafficking survivors with a number of consequences, such as limitations on their ability to secure safe, stable housing, gainful employment, or government benefits. The impact of having been trafficked on the psychological and physical well-being of victims combined with these limitations on access to basic needs leaves criminalized victims vulnerable to re-exploitation and without the stability they need as they work to heal from trauma and rebuild their lives.
Who We Serve: The HTPP provides pro-bono legal services to individuals who have criminal records stemming from an involvement in the commercial sex industry. The majority of HTPP clients exist at the intersection of race, class, and gender discrimination. They often have significant criminal justice involvement coupled with extensive histories of trauma.
What We Do: The project focuses on reducing the collateral consequences of criminal justice involvement for survivors of human trafficking and those populations made most vulnerable to exploitation.
In their role as the attorneys for HTPP clients, student attorneys will have the opportunity to:
• Review complex criminal records to determine post-conviction eligibility
• Represent clients in filing expungement and shielding petitions in District and Circuit courts throughout the State of Maryland
• Represent incarcerated survivors of trafficking who were convicted of trafficking related crimes and are seeking clemency
• Represent survivors of trafficking seeking to vacate their prostitution convictions under Maryland’s “vacating convictions” law
• Provide community education presentations to partnering community organizations
• Testify before the Maryland General Assembly to support state-based criminal justice reform efforts
• Participate in federal anti-trafficking legislative advocacy
Who Should Enroll in this Clinic: Students who want to develop strong, trauma-informed client interviewing skills, improve their legal writing and oral advocacy skills, make contacts in the criminal justice and public interest legal communities, and gain experience in a cutting-edge area of law and social justice.
The Human Trafficking Prevention Project is a 6-credit clinic, and is listed as a separate section of the Civil Advocacy Clinic. The three-hour weekly seminar focuses on lawyering skills in the context of human trafficking law. The course also has an advocacy component where students work on special projects, recent examples of which include testifying before the MD General Assembly on criminal justice reform legislation, conducting community education presentations at anti-trafficking organizations, and assisting with the city-wide effort to assist people in expunging criminal records to expand job and housing opportunities. Students are advised that the HTPP requires a significant time commitment of, on average, 20 hours per week.
Pre or co-requisites: Professional Responsibility and Evidence
Recommended Courses: Constitutional Criminal Procedure
Policies and Procedures: The Human Trafficking Prevention Project selects all of its students under the lottery system. Applications are due at specific dates the semester prior and follow set procedures. Students are advised that the Human Trafficking Prevention Project requires a significant time commitment of, on average, 20 hours per week.