Governor Quinn Signs Law to Assist Victims of Human Trafficking

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8/22/2014

For Immediate Release
Thursday, August 21, 2014

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Katie Hickey

Dave Blanchette

Governor Quinn Signs Law to Assist Victims of Human Trafficking

Law Establishes Fund to Provide Services for Victims of Human Trafficking

CHICAGO - Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation to establish a fund that will help provide specialized services to victims of human trafficking and prostitution. The fund will use previously collected fines from criminal offenses to provide targeted services to survivors, including community based drop-in centers and emergency housing. The legislation is part of Governor Quinn's agenda to protect and improve the health and well-being of the people of Illinois.

"While we must do everything we can to prevent horrible offenses such as human-trafficking, it is our duty to ensure all people are protected and cared for," Governor Quinn said. "Victims of these crimes often have no place to go and suffer from unimaginable distress. This fund will help provide specialized treatment to these individuals and ensure they have a safe place to rest and recover."

"DHS is pleased to continue working with our partners on the fight against human trafficking," Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS) Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler said. "This bill rightfully focuses its attention on helping people who are being exploited for profit and against their will every day in Illinois. It is a step in the right direction in our joint effort to support victims, especially child victims, of human trafficking."

"While Illinois has been a national leader in transforming our community's response to prostitution and human trafficking, we lag far behind in offering specialized services to these survivors," Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation (CAASE) Policy Director Lynne Johnson said. "This new legislation will create important opportunities to collect fines from offenders in order to help pay for new services. We look forward to working with Governor Quinn and the Illinois Department of Human Services to fund meaningful community-based programs for survivors."

Senate Bill 3558, sponsored by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) and State Representative Ann Williams (D-Chicago), establishes the Specialized Services for Survivors of Human Trafficking Fund to assist survivors of human trafficking and prostitution. The law reallocates collected criminal fines and fees to establish a specialized fund for survivors of the sex trade. The funds will be managed by the DHS and will provide targeted key services such as community based drop-in centers, emergency housing, long-term safe housing and more. The law is effective Jan. 1, 2015.

"People who have been enslaved by sex traffickers are now finally going to be lawfully protected and given every opportunity to heal and move forward with their lives," Senator Hutchinson said.

"This important initiative is designed to target resources where they are needed most," Representative Williams said. "We must attack human trafficking from all angles until we can eliminate this scourge on our society which destroys lives every day."

Governor Quinn has worked to help and assist victims of human trafficking since taking office. In 2011, the Governor signed legislation to give victims of human trafficking who have been charged with prostitution an opportunity to clear their names. Previously, wrongful convictions had limited victims' access to housing, employment, education, immigration status and parental rights.

In 2012, the Governor signed legislation to help law enforcement agencies crack down on human traffickers. The law strengthened prosecutors' ability to go after traffickers and also offered greater protection and help for survivors.

Last year, the Governor signed a law to help victims of human trafficking who have been "branded" by a tattoo recover from physical and psychological abuse.