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Criminal Justice Update

Grants will help trafficking victims


As attorney general, Dave Yost is emphasizing the fight against human trafficking, and he is turning up the pressure.

In one effort, his office is offering grants of up to $10,000 to nonprofit and public agencies that deal with human trafficking to help survivors rebrand tattoos that once declared them as property.

“The journey of a survivor out of slavery and addiction and trauma is hard enough without a permanent reminder that is literally part of your skin,” Yost said. 

Once grants are awarded, local courts with specialty dockets to address human trafficking determine a survivor’s eligibility. So far, such specialty court dockets operate in Cuyahoga, Franklin, Hamilton and Summit counties.

To apply for a grant, contact Aaron T. Bryant, victim services development director, at

Yost also strongly supports Senate Bill 13, the Protect Trafficked Minors Act. The measure, introduced by Sen. Teresa Fedor of Toledo and already passed by the Senate, would ensure that the law treats 16- and 17-year-olds the same as younger victims of human trafficking — which it doesn’t do now.

The bill would also require that any child charged with a prostitution-related offense or thought to be a victim of human trafficking be assigned a guardian ad litem in addition to a lawyer, and it would adjust the process by which the charge can be set aside for diversion actions.

In testimony before a Senate committee in March, Yost emphasized that Ohio is the only state in the nation that makes a distinction based on the age of a minor.

That disparity, he said, can allow young victims to slip through the cracks.

For Ohio authorities unwilling to let that happen, prosecutors and police must plead for help.

“Local law enforcement officials who want to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law can’t go to the courthouse in their county,” Yost said. “They’ve got to go and beg the federal government to prosecute the charges.”

The attorney general strenuously believes that the state shouldn’t tie the hands of police and prosecutors and that all minors should have equal legal protection.

“We must work together — work across the aisle — to bring an end to this stain on society,” he told senators.


Human Trafficking Poster


AG Yost’s office creates customized posters (such as the above for the March Madness Tournament in Columbus) to raise awareness of human trafficking. If an event in your area will attract a big out-of-town crowd and you’d like to join the fight, email