According to the Lone Star Justice Alliance, the Texas justice system currently incarcerates men, women, and children whose crimes were a direct result of, or incident to, human trafficking, intimate partner violence and other abuse. Too often the justice system fails to see these individuals as survivors of crime in need of a trauma-informed response to their victimization, and instead prosecutes them for their own crimes or those of their abusers.

Experts at the Steve Hicks School’s Institute on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault (IDVSA) are participating in the Clemency Project, through which incarcerated sex trafficking and domestic violence survivors in Texas can be pardoned by Gov. Greg Abbott in concert with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

“One of our biggest hurdles is to move away from treating the symptoms that cause vulnerability to eradicate those issues that create environments where people are continuously vulnerable to being exploited,” IDVSA director Noël Busch-Armendariz told Austin News. “We are working to educate and provide technical assistance on these clemency applications. Our experts are creating a mock written report used as a tool for preparing cases for pardon and the parole board.”

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