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Hutchinson proposal to let victims of human trafficking seal court records becomes law

trafficking records 080618SPRINGFIELD – Victims of human trafficking will now have the ability to seal their criminal records under a new law passed by State Senator Toi Hutchinson (D-Chicago Heights) and signed today.

“We know most victims of trafficking are being forced to commit crimes by their trafficker,” Hutchinson said. “Allowing the sealing of criminal records gives survivors more ability to move past their abuse and exploitation and towards recovery and a chance at a normal life.”

The new law, contained in House Bill 5494, creates a petition process that will allow trafficking victims to petition for the immediate sealing of criminal records upon completion of their sentence. Previously, only charges that result in an acquittal or dismissal are eligible for immediate sealing.

In the first six months of 2015, 215 victims of human trafficking in Illinois were reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline. While Chicagoland accounts for a majority of these cases, trafficking occurs in small towns and suburban communities across the state.

“When someone is exploited sexually or physically, hope and aspirations vanish and are replaced with fear and pain,” Hutchinson said. “These are survivors who have endured situations we can’t even fathom. Ensuring these victims have the tools available to rebuild their lives is the very least we can offer.”

House Bill 5494 was signed into law on Friday and took effect immediately.

Sen. Toi W. Hutchinson


40th District

Years served: 
2009 - Present

Committee assignments: Labor; Judiciary; Revenue (Chairperson); Transportation; Committee of the Whole; Appropriations II; Licensed Activities and Pensions; Committee on Restorative Justice.

Biography: Full-time state legislator; Born May 20, 1973; Graduated University of Illinois at Urbana with a Bachelor in English; Olympia Fields Village Clerk from 2002-2006; Harvard Kennedy School of Government Executive Management Program; Women and Power, 2004; Former Chief of Staff to State Senator Debbie Halvorson; Lives in Olympia Fields with husband, Paul, and 3 children.