Illinois Governor Pat Quinn (D) signed the Justice for Victims of Sex Trafficking Crimes Act into law, which will enable victims of human trafficking charged with prostitution to petition to expunge their prostitution convictions. Governor Quinn stated, “Sex trafficking is a truly reprehensible crime that preys on the most vulnerable. Victims deserve a chance to clear their records and rebuild their lives.”
The law aims to help trafficking victims, who are often limited in their access to housing, employment opportunities, and education due to prostitution convictions. It is part of a campaign in Illinois to hold pimps and johns legally responsible for trafficking, not those who are forced into prostitution. The bill was sponsored by Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) and Representative Karen Yarbrough (D-Maywood and will go into effect January 1, 2012.
Senator Hutchinson stated, “The most important things about Senate Bill 1037 is that it makes sure that the judicial system has a mechanism to ensure that a person who has been the victim of a crime is not automatically considered a criminal. It is good public policy to protect women and children who have been taken advantage of in this most heinous way. They can take the necessary steps to rebuild their lives and become functional members of society after suffering trauma of that magnitude.”