Alabama Senate increases penalties for child sex traffickers

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As Human Trafficking Awareness Month comes to a close, Alabama lawmakers passed a bill on Tuesday to making a lasting impact in the efforts to stop the horrific and barbaric exploitation.

The Alabama State Senate unanimously passed a bill Tuesday that enhances the criminal penalties for those found guilty obstructing the enforcement of the human trafficking laws in Alabama.

Sponsored by Alabaster-Republican state Sen. Cam Ward, SB179, is part of the Senate Republicans’ “Fighting for Alabama” 2018 agenda.

“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.”

The bill  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.

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.

“There is nothing more important than protecting the most vulnerable members of our communities, our children,” Ward added. “We want to give law enforcement every tool they need to ensure no child is ever harmed in this manner.”

While many Alabamians are unaware of its ongoings, sex trafficking is actively happening not only abroad, but also in Alabama. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at least 36 human trafficking cases were reported in the Yellowhammer State in 2017. They also report more than 111 victims of human trafficking in Alabama have called its hotline for help this year.

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