- Southern California, with a Focus on Los Angeles
Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $799,920)
Free to Thrive's (FTT) project will expand existing criminal record relief (CRR) services to human trafficking (HT) victims throughout Southern California, with a focus on Los Angeles. FTT will also work with its human trafficking (HT) clients to clear their criminal records statewide. Clearing a HT victim’s criminal record removes significant barriers to stable employment, safe housing, loans, government benefits, and family reunification. It also enables them to access victim’s benefits, volunteer at their children’s schools, and shed the stigma of having a criminal record. The project targets underserved criminalized HT victims, who are members of communities that have been historically marginalized and adversely affected by inequality. FTT will provide CRR directly and through its pro bono attorney network. The project’s goals include: increasing identification of criminalized HT victims; clearing HT victims’ criminal records to improve the well-being of victims and their families; and increasing access to trauma-informed civil legal services and non-legal social services for HT victims. To effectively provide CRR services, FTT will: (i) screen incarcerated women and out-of-custody criminalized individuals to identify HT victims eligible for CRR; (ii) train social service organizations to identify victims among their vulnerable client populations; (iii) provide CRR to HT victims; (iv) train and support pro bono attorneys representing HT victims with CRR; and (v) train criminal justice system stakeholders regarding HT and CRR laws. In addition, FTT will refer its CRR clients to other FTT programs, and to partner organizations, to comprehensively meet their other legal needs and non-legal social service needs.