State Advocacy

Example: Task Force State Advocacy in Illinois

Illinois Safe Children’s Act (2010)

Building a sound foundation for success also depends on the enactment of effective human trafficking legislation on the state level. In order to address human trafficking, state and local law enforcement officials not only need a well-crafted set of felony criminal offenses, including racketeering and forfeiture (as found in the federal criminal code), but also the well-established tools used in organized crime investigations. This includes the legal authority to: (1) conduct consensual overhears and judicially approved wiretaps, (2) employ investigative grand juries or similar compulsory processes, and (3) provide use immunity, witness protection, and cooperation plea agreements.

State human trafficking legislation may also include the adoption of some form of “safe harbor” provision (and appropriate child welfare regulations) to move underage victims of sex trafficking out of the juvenile justice or criminal justice process and into the child abuse and neglect system. In order to treat commercially sexually exploited children as victims rather than offenders, states across the country are currently experimenting with different variations of safe harbor legislation based on local conditions. In sum, these statutes create affirmative defenses to, rebuttable presumptions against, or outright bans of the prosecution of children as prostitutes.

Finally, a comprehensive state statutory framework should include provisions that help suppress customer demand for all types of human trafficking and place suspected human trafficking on the mandatory reporter list of child abuse incidents under state law.

Resource: National Conference of State Legislatures

The National Conference of State Legislatures provides technical assistance on human trafficking to state legislators in order to educate and inform their efforts to address the various aspects of human trafficking policy that support specialized services for trafficking victims, reduce the crime's demand, and punish the perpetrators appropriately. This project is funded by the Office for Victims of Crime. For assistance, please contact

Regarding any political measures or advocacy activities, it should be understood that some task force agencies may not be able to endorse political measures as a matter of policy; for example, many municipal police departments cannot endorse specific legislative advocacy efforts. Recipients of federal funds and nonprofits are also restricted in activities that constitute lobbying, particularly with federal funds. In this case, one recommendation is that the endorsement comes from the task force itself, with the police department accepting that the task force is a collective voice. The other option is for member agencies to individually endorse the measure, while stating they are members of the task force (e.g., “The Hometown Human Trafficking Shelter, a member of the Hometown Human Trafficking Task Force, announced its endorsement of…”).

For additional information and tools, visit the Resource page for Section 3.3 Other Task Force Activities.