On April 11th, in honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the Human Trafficking Academy was honored to host Florida State Representative Ross Spano in a talk attended by law students, faculty, staff, and community members. Professor Roza Pati, Director of the Human Trafficking Academy, welcomed Representative Ross Spano to St. Thomas Law and highlighted his tremendous work in the State of Florida to confront the problem of trafficking in human beings, to find solutions and to eradicate this scourge.
Representative Spano, who is also currently a candidate for Florida Attorney General, opened up about why it is that he was called to advocate on behalf of victims of human trafficking, and offered insights into the laudable legislative efforts that he has championed in the pursuit of this aim.
Representative Spano began the talk by emphasizing the need to stand up to bullies, which he learned from his own childhood experiences. “There are all sorts of bullies in life,” he said, “and one of those bullies takes the form of a human trafficker.” He shared the experience of pushing for the passage of numerous bills to protect victims of sex trafficking. These legislative measures covered a range of issues including, the ability for victims of sex trafficking to petition for any prostitution convictions in their record to be vacated or expunged, an increase on the criminal penalty for pimps and for those who solicit the services of sex trafficked persons, the ability for prosecutors to pursue RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) charges against traffickers, and protecting the locations of safe-houses for trafficking victims from public disclosure.
Representative Spano’s passionate commitment to eliminating human trafficking in Florida was palpable and was mirrored by the audience. The attendees were engaged throughout, asking many thought-provoking questions during the latter half of the session.
Some students who were in attendance shared their thoughts about the talk afterwards. Kimberly Colón, an LL.M. student, said that “Representative Ross Spano was very insightful on the different laws regarding human trafficking in the State of Florida.” Diego Sánchez, a 2L, stated that, “It was great to hear from someone who has been at the legislative forefront of tackling this very important issue in our State.” Added Nadia El Nur, another student from the LL.M. program, “I really enjoyed the lecture organized by the Human Trafficking Academy. The discussion held afterward was inspiring and very informative.”
Representative Spano has pledged to continue to “fight for victims of human trafficking until we completely eradicate this scourge from Florida.” There can be no doubt that his work, including the talk he gave on the 11th, has inspired others to take up the fight as well.