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Post by: Sarah Stefaniak

Research to Improve Future Policy

My name is Sarah. I am a rising 3L and a law fellow at Shared Hope International for the summer. Shared Hope is a policy organization that develops report cards on child sex trafficking laws for all 50 states and Washington, D.C. to improve policy and legislation for the protection of victims. While states have improved significantly over the past two decades regarding protecting human trafficking victims, there are still many different areas where we can improve. Seemingly strong statutes that appear to protect these victims may have some unintended consequences that harm them more than they help them.

As a fellow, I have been immersed in a variety of issues including vacatur laws and affirmative defenses for victims who may have committed crimes due to their victimization. It has been an incredible learning experience to dive in deeper to these issues and understand why certain laws could be improved. I feel confident that I am more educated on certain subjects as I revisit the same issue in every state.

The most valuable portion of the internship is not just the legal research experience I’m gaining or the deeper knowledge on how to fight human trafficking, but the ways in which my research is helping Shared Hope, and in turn, helping victims across the country. During our internship we are exposed to webinars, speeches and news regarding policy and legislation changes. I have been able to view other speakers just as passionate about the cause and take notes on announcements such as the 2020 TIP Report from the Secretary of State. It is amazing to see the changes that have been implemented both federally and on the state level with the help of Shared Hope’s policy and legal research.

I’m excited to continue this experience throughout the summer, despite not being able to work at the office in person due to COVID-19 concerns. I know the work that I am doing is helping others and that I am making an impact in the fight against human trafficking. This is the reason I came to law school and I’m excited to continue pursuing this passion.

This post was written by a Center for Global Justice Intern. The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Regent University, Regent Law School, or the Center for Global Justice.