A long-time advocate for raising awareness about the growing epidemic of human trafficking, this week State Senator Karen McConnaughay (R-St. Charles) was appointed to the newly-created Illinois Human Trafficking Task Force.
As Chief Sponsor of the law creating the Task Force, McConnaughay said she’s eager to get to work, stressing it is critical that leaders at all levels of government work with law enforcement and advocacy organizations to take human trafficking prevention efforts beyond urban communities as part of a focused statewide prevention and support effort.
“It is an honor to be appointed to the Human Trafficking Task Force,” said McConnaughay. “Human trafficking is a statewide problem that will require input and guidance from all levels of government, law enforcement and advocacy organizations if we are to truly understand the scope of what we’re facing and devise an effective approach to tackle what has become a serious criminal problem in Illinois.”
“Illinois reports the eighth highest number of human trafficking cases in the country, and it’s important that everyone understands this isn’t a crime isolated to metropolitan Chicago—human trafficking is taking place in our suburban communities and neighborhoods,” said McConnaughay.
At the bill signing, Governor Rauner underscored the significant need for the Task Force and emphasized the importance of giving a voice to individuals who have fallen victim to exploitation.
“Human trafficking predators prey on vulnerable people, and we have to take action to help protect them, because no one should endure this pain,” said Rauner in a written statement issu
ed when he signed the law establishing the Task Force. “Creating this Task Force is an important step in combatting this issue head-on.”
McConnaughay noted that the Task Force will consider the special circumstances accompanying many human trafficking victims, including those with language barriers, emotional challenges or economic hardships.
The Task Force is comprised of legislators, members of the Chicago Regional Human Trafficking Task Force, the Director of the Illinois State Police, and will
receive additional support from the Department of Children and Family Services. Together, the group will research human trafficking cases, explore common signs to recognize potential trafficking scenarios, and make recommendations for the prevention of local human trafficking. The Task Force will also work to protect reported victims and help them obtain the proper treatment.
“One of the best ways I can help as a public servant is to raise awareness about this serious issue among local leaders, law enforcement and the public,” said McConnaughay. “It’s my hope that this Task Force will effectively expand coordination between government, law enforcement and independent organizations and improve the quality of care and rehabilitation of trafficking survivors.”
The Task Force was enacted as a result of House Bill 2822, signed into law by the Governor on Sunday, August 21.
The Task Force is required to submit a report with its findings and recommendations to the Governor and the General Assembly on or before June 30, 2017.