Stop criminalizing the victims

Photo purchased from iStock at Getty Images

Photo purchased from iStock at Getty Images

CNN) Nina ran away from home at 14. She met a woman who put her up in a hotel room and brought "clients" to her. For the next 13 years, Nina had 20 different pimps who advertised her for sex on the internet and abused her verbally and physically.
By the time Nina -- whose real name I won't reveal to help protect her identity -- was finally referred to victim services, she had been convicted of 52 offenses, mostly prostitution, but also theft and using a false ID.

She had spent time in both juvenile hall and jail. Should Nina have a criminal record?

The ramifications of a criminal record are very real -- whether for a survivor of sex trafficking who cannot get a job or rent an apartment because of prior arrests for prostitution; a domestic worker who has fled her abusive household and needs protection but instead is penalized for violating U.S. immigration laws; or those forced by organized criminal groups to produce, transport, and sell drugs.

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