When the Illinois Domestic Violence Act was enacted in 1986, the General Assembly acknowledged that “the legal system has ineffectively dealt with family violence in the past … and has not adequately acknowledged the criminal nature of domestic violence; that, although many laws have changed, in practice there is still widespread failure to appropriately protect and assist victims.” However, despite these stated purposes, the criminal justice system response to the Act in the last twenty years has been slow to correct this failure. Last year, the Trafficking of Persons and Involuntary Servitude Articles were added to the Illinois Criminal Code. As hundreds of thousands of women and children a year are trafficked into the United States from other countries – many of them ending up in Chicago and the Midwest – the addition of these Articles to the Criminal Code is crucial in the effective prosecution and punishment of this growing criminal trend. Because of the similarity of populations that both the IDVA and the Articles address, unless the criminal justice system learns from its failure to effectively implement the IDVA, implementation of the Trafficking Articles will suffer the same fate. To explore this connection, this article critically analyzes the implementation of the IDVA to provide a roadmap for the criminal justice system’s response to the Trafficking Articles; using this analysis, it then predicts barriers to effective implementation of the Articles. Specifically, it reflects on how the type of law – here statutes aimed at protecting women and girls – factors into this lag from enactment to implementation. Finally, it recommends steps the criminal justice system can take to learn from its struggle to implement the IDVA, and to improve the chances for effective implementation of the Trafficking Articles.

Included in

Law Commons