News

  1. YEAR
  2. 2018
  3. 2017
  4. 2016
  5. 2015
  6. 2014
  7. 2013
  8. 2012
  9. 2011
  10. 2010
  11. 2009
  • « Back
    06.18.18 Professor Kate Mogulescu Co-Authors Op-ed in The Hill Supporting Human Trafficking Survivors
    Assistant Professor of Clinical Law Kate Mogulescu

    In a policy change that could have dire consequences, the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) recently dealt a significant blow to legal services for survivors of human trafficking, when it belatedly included language prohibiting the use of $77 million of grants to help survivors clear their criminal records that resulted from their victimization. The change, prompted by the Trump administration, denies survivors access to critical legal representation that helps them achieve independence, safety and stability, argues Professor Kate Mogulescu in an op-ed she co-authored with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. in The Hill.

    Mogulescu and Vance note that the abrupt change is an about-face from previous policy developed after years of consultation with, and consensus among, survivors, advocates, and law enforcement officials. They contend that the new funding restriction is not only irrational but harmful to the very survivors that the OVC grants are designed to protect. Together with survivors, advocates, prosecutors, other members of law enforcement, and many concerned individuals across the country, they call on the Department of Justice to reverse course on the policy and allow its human trafficking funds to be used to provide legal representation for survivors who have been unjustly criminalized. Unless the decision is reversed, the change will impact applications for funding due June 29, 2018.

    “As a lawyer who has worked with hundreds of victims to clear their records and the head of a prosecutor’s office that has collaborated to vacate more convictions for victims than any other, we come together here to highlight the importance of this funding, and of vacatur work, for survivors and for law enforcement agencies,” Mogulescu and Vance write. “If funding is restricted in the way DOJ intends, many victims of human trafficking will remain burdened by their records, and vulnerable to further exploitation. Or courts will be plagued with legal petitions—filed by survivors without legal representation—that are not properly compiled, investigated or presented. Important steps taken to repair victims’ view of, and trust in, law enforcement and the criminal legal system will be diminished.”

    A 2016 National Survivor Network survey of victims of human trafficking found that more than 90 percent of respondents reported having been arrested, and more than 40 percent reported being arrested nine times or more.  Mogulescu and Vance highlight the problems—including denial of employment, housing, and other services—that result when no one questions the detrimental impact this has on survivors’ ability to move forward with their lives.

    “Criminal records act as concrete barriers for survivors,” they write. “Too often, the legal systems meant to help victims only disempower them and create further marginalization.” 

    Mogulescu, a recognized expert on human trafficking issues, joined the Law School as a Clinical Law professor after 14 years with The Legal Aid Society, where she served as a supervising attorney in the Criminal Defense Practice. Her work and scholarship focus mainly on gender issues in the criminal legal system, with special attention to human trafficking. Last semester, Mogulescu launched the Criminal Defense & Advocacy Clinic (CDAC), working with students at the Law School to provide critical representation for people arrested because of their involvement in the commercial sex industry.

    Read the op-ed here