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Anita Alvarez
Cook County State's Attorney
Communications Department
Chicago, IL 60602
(312) 603-3423
saomedia@cookcountygov.com


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

August 20, 2010

Alvarez Applauds Governor's Signature of Illinois Safe Children's Act

Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez is applauding Governor Pat Quinn’s signature today of the Illinois Safe Children’s Act, a bill that will revolutionize the way Illinois law enforcement addresses the human trafficking of children under the age of 18.

Drafted by the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, House Bill 6462 will provide new protections to children caught up in the sex trade and will also give law enforcement new tools to investigate and prosecute the criminal rings that prostitute juveniles.

"Many people consider the sex trafficking of children to be an international issue and not a problem that impacts us here right in our own communities, but that is not the case at all," Alvarez said. "The Illinois Safe Children Act is landmark legislation that will provide police and prosecutors with the tools that we need to aggressively tackle this crime. This new law will also put Illinois at the forefront of states who have enacted new laws to protect children from the horrors of sex trafficking."

The Illinois Safe Children’s Act will make the following changes in the criminal code:

  • Provides for the transfer of jurisdiction over children who are arrested for prostitution from the criminal system to the child protection system, with special provisions to facilitate their placement in temporary protective custody if necessary.

  • Makes crimes that penalize the commercial sexual exploitation of children applicable to all minors under 18 as child victims, in conformity with Illinois’ human trafficking law and federal law.

  • Removes references to “juvenile prostitutes” in the criminal code, in recognition of the fact that children have no capacity to consent to their own commercial sexual exploitation and thus are not prostitutes but rather are victims of a serious sexual offense.

  • Protects minors by limiting the affirmative defense that pimps or traffickers “believed” that the prostituted child was at least 18 years old to only those pimps and traffickers who had no reasonable opportunity actually to see the victim (in accordance with federal law and constitutional requirements of due process).

  • Increases the fee and expands the vehicle impounding provisions currently in place for the crime of “Soliciting for a Prostitute” (11-15), to other related crimes of commercial sexual exploitation, including the exploitation of minors, and uses the money for victim services and police officers.

  • Supports the criminal investigations of these organized crime rings by adding the related offenses of human trafficking and juvenile pimping crimes to the list of offenses subject to court-ordered interceptions as defined by existing law. In this way, under judge supervision, the same legal tools used to fight groups selling drugs can be used against groups selling children.

  • Allows for officer-safety recordings to protect undercover officers during dangerous sex-trafficking investigations.

 

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