MONTGOMERY, Ala. – The Alabama House of Representatives passed SB179 yesterday, a bill that establishes severe penalties for those found guilty of obstructing an investigation into human trafficking, which includes child sex trafficking The legislation, sponsored by Senator Cam Ward (R-Alabaster) and a part of Senate Republicans’ “Fighting for Alabama” 2018 agenda, received bipartisan support.
The bill would enhance the penalties already in place, increasing the maximum offense to a Class A felony, with a minimum jail sentence of ten years. Under current law, the obstruction of an investigation into human trafficking is only a Class C felony – meaning conviction could result in merely one year in prison.
The bill closes a critical loophole in the current law, according to Senator Ward.
“This week we’ve taken another crucial step in ending this horrific practice,” Ward said. “By increasing penalties for those who would aid traffickers, we 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.
“We want to give law enforcement every tool they need to ensure no child is ever harmed in this manner,” Ward said. “I want to thank my colleagues for working to pass this law. I’m proud that the Alabama Legislature has made this a priority.”
The bill now heads to Governor Kay Ivey for her signature.
Republican Senator 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