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Alabama Now the Toughest State in the Nation on Human Trafficking


On April 17, 2024, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed into law a bill that will greatly increase the punishment for human trafficking in the state. Previously, human trafficking in Alabama was a Class A felony, punishable by 20 years to life in prison. However, this newest law, known as the Sound of Freedom Act, requires that anyone convicted of first-degree human trafficking receive a mandatory life sentence if the victim was a minor.

In commenting on the law, Governor Ivey expressed her belief that a harsher penalty was needed for such a “heinous and heart-wrenching crime.” Governor Ivey stated that law enforcement all over the country has faced challenges in properly suppressing human trafficking, including law enforcement in the state of Alabama. However, Governor Ivey sees this new law as a way to turn the tide. “[H]uman traffickers [have] continue[d] to cavalierly defy our laws, but not anymore. . . . There must be a line drawn in the sand,” Ivey said.

The US Department of Justice defines human trafficking as “a crime that involves compelling or coercing a person to provide labor or services, or to engage in commercial sex acts.” However, “[e]xploitation of a minor for commercial sex is human trafficking, regardless of whether any form of force, fraud, or coercion was used.” According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over 2,000 people were referred to US attorneys for engaging in human trafficking in the 2021 fiscal year, representing a nearly 50% increase from ten years prior. As for victims of human trafficking, the Department of Justice states that there is no one characteristic that they all share, however there are particular factors that are believed to make a person more vulnerable. These factors include experiencing “poverty, limited English proficiency, or lack of lawful immigration status.” Furthermore, these factors are “exacerbated by lack of stable, safe housing, and limited economic and educational opportunities.”

The Sound of Freedom Act got its start in an unexpected way. State Representative Donna Given was inspired to take action by the 2023 film from which the law got its name. “I went and saw the movie and sitting there in the movie I was like, ‘Okay, I’ve got to do something.’ I felt like God was speaking to me,” said Representative Given. To critics of the law’s harsh penalty, Representative Given says, “[s]omeone is losing a child, losing their very own child, their loved one over just pure greed.”

According to the new law, there are three possible ways for a person to be convicted of first-degree human trafficking. First, the person charged knowingly subjected another person to labor or sexual servitude. Second, the person charged knowingly forced or coerced a minor into sexual servitude or assisted in that process. And third, the person charged knowingly pays or attempts to pay for sexual conduct with a minor or a person they believe to be a minor, with money or anything else of value. In order for the mandatory life sentence to apply, the victim must have been a minor. The Sound of Freedom Act, the toughest anti-human trafficking law in the nation, is set to take effect on October 1, 2024.

If you are charged with a sex crime or Human Sex Trafficking and are seeking representation, contact Joseph A. Ingram or Ingram Law LLC at (205) 335-2640. You are entitled to representation and need to start gathering the facts and evidence as soon as possible.

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