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Gov. Greg Abbott announces clemency application for survivors of human trafficking, domestic abuse

The application will give survivors a path to a potential pardon for crimes committed while under the grip of a trafficker or abusive partner.

AUSTIN, Texas — On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced the creation of a customized clemency application for survivors of human trafficking or domestic violence, giving them the opportunity to apply for a potential pardon for crimes committed while under the grip of a trafficker or abusive partner.

The application will include a section to provide a statement to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles (BPP), who will consider recommending the case to the governor for review, Abbott’s office said on Thursday.

The announcement includes the launch of a new public awareness campaign to educate survivors that they can submit an application to BPP.

Human trafficking and domestic violence often lead victims down a path of offenses that entraps them in a cycle of abuse and associated crime.

“Texas is committed to empowering the survivors of domestic abuse and human trafficking, and one of the surest signals of that goal is laying out a true path to redemption and restoration,” Abbott said on Thursday. “The gubernatorial pardon plays an important role in this redemption process because it offers a second chance to survivors with criminal convictions resulting from their abuse or exploitation.”

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Abbott said his office was working with the BPP “to develop a stronger justice system that promotes redemption, restoration and transformation.”

The effort is part of a wider state focus on the crime of human trafficking. Last month, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) held a training session to teach its employees and contractors on how to identify and report signs of human trafficking.

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According to TxDOT, Texas leads the nation when it comes to active federal human trafficking cases. In 2017, a University of Texas study estimated that there were more than 300,000 human trafficking victims at any given time in Texas.

Over the past three months, Abbott's Child Sex Trafficking Team has awarded $26 million to programs helping to prevent human trafficking and supporting victims.

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