Sex trafficking victims still in prison despite California laws

In summary

California has evolved in how it treats victims of sex trafficking. But many victims, most of them Black women, are still sitting behind bars for crimes they committed while being trafficked.

Sara Kruzan was in her cell when she received a fax that changed her life. After spending some of her teenage years, all of her 20s and much of her 30s in prison for killing her trafficker, Kruzan learned that California’s attorney general had acknowledged that she was a victim of domestic violence. That was 2012. A year later, she was released from prison. 

But the same year that Kruzan received that fax, another California teenager was about to follow her same path. Keiana Aldrich was headed to prison after taking a plea deal in Sacramento County for kidnapping and robbing a man who tried to hire her for pornography even though she was a minor. The man didn’t spend a day behind bars, but Aldrich, 17, was prosecuted as an adult and served eight years in prison. 

“I still feel like I’m 16,” said Aldrich, now 25, her voice cracking, a few weeks after being released from prison last November. “Everything’s not the same anymore. It’s all different. I’m learning how to drive…I’m learning how to be an adult now.”

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