In 2012, Illinois enacted the Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Crimes Act (“JVST Act”), which enables victims of sex trafficking to clear their criminal records of prostitution convictions under Illinois law. Under this new law, if the conviction occurred while the individual was a victim of trafficking, as defined by Illinois law, he or she can seek to have the conviction removed. There is no time limit for a victim of trafficking to clear their record of these convictions, even if the prostitution conviction occurred many years ago.
In 2011, Illinois enacted the Illinois Safe Children’s Act. The law makes Illinois the first state in the nation to make all children under the age of 18 immune from prosecution for prostitution, under any circumstances. If a child exploited in prostitution is encountered by law enforcement, she/he may be taken into temporary protective custody, and law enforcement must notify DCFS, which in turn must initiate an investigation into child abuse within 24 hours. The bill also raises penalties and limits the availability of affirmative defenses for those exploiting minors. The bill provides the possibility of additional funding for services to survivors of human trafficking and prostitution, through expanded vehicle impoundment fees. Finally, the bill expands law enforcement’s ability to engage in wiretapping during investigations into human trafficking crimes.
In 2006, Illinois enacted the Illinois Predator Accountability Act (IPAA). The IPAA provides survivors of sex trafficking a civil remedy to sue traffickers and others, who financially benefitted from their forced prostitution to reclaim money. Again this claim can be filed regardless of whether or not the state chooses to file criminal charges of trafficking.
Under the federal law, Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPRA), survivors of human trafficking can file a private civil law suit against anyone who could be held criminally liable for their trafficking. Survivors can bring these claims even if the government chooses not pursue a criminal charges or chooses to bring charges under a different statute.
Public Act 099-0099, effective January 1, 2016, requires a notice regarding human trafficking posted in certain establishments. The Illinois Department of Health and Human Services was charged with creating the model notices, which are available for download in a variety of languages. The Human Trafficking Initiative, along with various other partners, assisted IDHS in developing the model notices.