MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama State Senate passed SB179 today, a bill that establishes severe penalties for those found guilty of obstructing an investigation into child trafficking. The legislation, sponsored by Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) received bipartisan support, passing unanimously, and is part of the Senate Republicans’ “Fighting for Alabama” 2018 agenda.
Ward’s proposal would enhance the penalties already in place, increasing the offense to a Class A felony, with a minimum jail sentence of ten years. Under current law, the obstruction of an investigation into child trafficking is only a Class C felony – meaning conviction could result in merely one year in prison.
“This issue is truly one of the most horrific blights on our society, and tragically, most often the victims are children,” Ward said. “Increasing penalties for those who would aid traffickers is a crucial step in ending this monstrous practice. This bill will hold them just as accountable as the traffickers themselves.”
According to the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force, the average age of sex trafficking victims is between 11-14 years old. It is estimated that two children are trafficked into sexual exploitation every minute.
The bill’s passage comes on the heels of President Trump’s proclamation of January 2018 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month.
“There is nothing more important than protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities, our children,” Ward said. “We want to give law enforcement every tool they need to ensure no child is ever harmed in this manner.”
Cam Ward represents District 14 in the Alabama State Senate, which includes all or parts of Shelby, Bibb, Chilton, Hale, and Jefferson counties. He serves as Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Follow him on Twitter: @SenCamWard