Alvarez supports Governor Quinn to mandate the Illinois Safe Children’s Act
Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez has expressed her support to Governor Pat Quinn in mandating the Illinois Safe Children’s Act. The act aims to revolutionize law enforcement processes of juvenile crimes related to human trafficking and, ultimately, to abolish sex trafficking, criminal prostitution, and exploitation of children.
Drafted by Ms. Alvarez and modeled after the 2008 William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, the Illinois Safe Children Act House Bill 6462 shall transfer the jurisdiction of the children caught in sex trafficking to the Department of Human Services to provide assistance much suited for victims, rather than suspects. Furthermore, it shall allow access to new law enforcement tools for the investigation and prosecution of the individuals and entities involved in the exploitation of children.
In a statement regarding the Illinois Safe Children’s Act’s passage, Ms. Alvarez mentioned, “many people consider the sex trafficking of children to be an international issue and not a problem that impacts us here right in our communities.” However, despite child sex trafficking occurring worldwide, targeting women and girls, there are also a vast number of related cases in Chicago. Hence, the previous legislation designed to tackle the pre-existing problem involving child prostitution had to be scrutinized and enhanced to improve further the system of prosecuting matters involving juvenile prostitution.
The aforementioned Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 has been used as the framework of the Illinois Safe Children’s Act, revising, and making adjustments. It is said that this law will provide added protection to potential child trafficking victims while putting an effort to ensure that these victims will not be returned to an exploitive environment. “The Illinois Safe Children Act is landmark legislation that will provide police and prosecutors with the tools that we need to tackle this crime aggressively. 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,” Ms. Alvarez said.
In summary, the following changes in the Illinois Safe Children’s Act criminal code shall be made:
- Allows the transfer of the jurisdiction over children who have been arrested for sex trafficking from the criminal system to the Department of Human Services or Child Protection System, which also includes special provisions that permit and facilitate the placement of the juvenile victims under temporary protective custody if necessary.
- Warrants the extension of the crimes that penalize children’s commercial sexual exploitation for applying to all minors under 18 as child victims, in adherence to Illinois’ human trafficking law and federal law.
- Eradicates the reference to “juvenile prostitutes” in the criminal code, with the understanding that children are victims of severe and grave sex trafficking and sexual offenses, rather than consensual adults with the capacity to consent to their commercial sexual exploitation.
- Provides further security and protection of minors by limiting the parameters of the affirmative defense to only account for the vindication that the sex traffickers “believed” that the sexually exploited child was at least 18 years old to those sex traffickers who had no valid circumstance to see the victim under federal law and constitutional requirements of due process.
- Increases the penalty and expands the provisions regarding vehicle impounding to be stretched from the crime of soliciting for a prostitute, to the exploitation of minors, and other crimes related, but not limited to commercial sexual exploitations.
- Includes the human trafficking and child exploitation to the list of criminal offenses subjected to the court-ordered interceptions to support the criminal investigations and prosecution of individuals and criminal groups involved in juvenile prostitution. This expands the prosecution processes involving child exploitation, which allows it to be pursued with the same procedures as used to combat drug trafficking.
- Protects undercover officers assigned to work on dangerous sex-trafficking investigations through the use of officer-safety recordings
Updated: July 20, 2020