Legislation to provide grant money and immunity

prison-162885 640RSPRINGFIELD – The fight against human trafficking in Illinois may be receiving a huge boost in the form of legislation that unanimously passed the State Senate today. Proposed by Senator Toi Hutchinson (D – Chicago Heights), the Specialized Services for Survivors of Human Trafficking fund would provide grants for essential needs associated with human trafficking and prostitution, while providing that minors can no longer be charged with solicitation of a sex act.

“Those who have been enslaved by sex traffickers should be lawfully protected and given every opportunity to heal and move forward with their lives,” Sen. Hutchinson said.

The measure is funded from fees and forfeitures accrued from offenders convicted of human trafficking or prostitution crimes. Priority services administered in consultation with expert advocates, including emergency housing and drop-in centers.

“The offender funded grants are going to provide the trauma centers and shelters necessary for continued survival.  This is a cause we can all get behind. Victims need an advocate in every one of us,” Hutchinson said.

The legislation further provides that a person cannot be convicted of solicitation, if the underlying sex act is the person’s own act of prostitution. The legislative effort has many supporters, among them the Illinois Attorney General’s Office, Lutheran Social Services of Illinois and the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless.

Senate Bill 3558 now awaits a vote in the House. 

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