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Bill created to give human trafficking victims a voice in court

Posted at 8:23 AM, Feb 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-20 09:23:38-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — There's now an effort to help human trafficking victims who get trapped in the legal system. Lawmakers want to make sure every victim's voice is heard if they end up in court.

It was inspired by Cyntoia Brown, who served 15 years for killing a man in self-defense when she was a teenager. Brown was a victim of human trafficking which lawmakers say is the second-highest rising crime in Tennessee.

If passed, this bill would allow victims to testify in court to prove they are a victim of human trafficking. That's something Brown was not able to do while she was on trial in 2004. Representative London Lamar from Memphis worked with law enforcement to come up with this proposal.

"What this would do is update it, where if you are in a place that you're not supposed to be or commit a crime because of your victim status, you can have the self-defense claim and prove your victim status through testimony only so that both sides can cross-examine you," Lamar said.

This bill passed the judiciary committee Wednesday, and will continue to move through the state capitol.