Sen. Mike Simmons

SPRINGFIELD – To prevent minors who are survivors of human trafficking, or other factors such as sexual abuse, from being tried as adults in certain criminal cases, State Senator Mike Simmons advanced a House bill out of the Senate Special Committee on Criminal Law and Public Safety on Wednesday.

“Survivors of child trafficking and abuse have endured unimaginable trauma and pain, and they should not be tried as adult criminals when they are simply trying to defend themselves and escape their abusers,” said Simmons (D-Chicago). “Survivors deserve our support and compassion, and a system that protects - not punishes them.”

House Bill 3414 was inspired by Sara Kruzan, a survivor of child sex trafficking who was sentenced to life in prison when she was only 17 years old. She was eventually released and pardoned, however this legislation seeks to protect future survivors from a similar fate.

House Bill 3414 reforms the criminal legal system clarifies whether or not a minor should be tried as an adult if the crime the minor commits is against someone who was convicted of human trafficking or of a sex crime targeting the minor within the last three years. If that is the case, the court may transfer them to juvenile court.

HB 3414 also expands the number of factors judges can consider in deciding whether to issue an order to prosecute a minor as an adult for a felony offense. These factors include if the minor was in the child welfare system, is a survivor of sexual violence or similar trauma, mental health, or outside pressure from the minor’s peers, family or community.

“We should be providing every support and resource to any child who has experienced abuse,” Simmons said. “It is our responsibility to protect them, and to do everything we can to end the vicious and cruel cycle of punishing our most vulnerable populations.”

House Bill 3414 passed the Senate Special Committee on Criminal Law and Public Safety on Wednesday and moves to the Senate floor for further consideration.