- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 21, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A bill that would help Nebraska sex trafficking victims remove criminal convictions from their records has won first-round approval in the Legislature.

Lawmakers voted 27-0 on Wednesday to advance the measure through the first of three required votes.

The measure is part of a push to focus less on punishing survivors and more on targeting traffickers and sex purchasers. It would allow human trafficking survivors to ask a judge to aside their conviction and seal their criminal record for offenses they committed while under a trafficker’s influence.

Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks of Lincoln says she introduced the bill because traffickers exert tremendous control over their victims. The victims are usually women and girls who are kept in prostitution through threats, violence and drug addiction.

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