When Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall first took office, he made fighting human trafficking in the state a top priority. Though Alabama's laws are better than they used to be, he said there's still lots to be done and to learn.

"There were a lot of well-meaning people around the human trafficking issue, but there was frankly not a ton of coordination, and I felt training was still lacking," Marshall said during a recent interview with "Alabama Unfiltered."

"It is a crime, frankly, that I think we're still learning more about," Marshall said. "...One thing we're learning from the research is the familial connection… Many times, and this sounds strange, [victims] are loyal to the core to the offender because that person is typically providing their financial resources, they're providing their house, and they might feel that that person loves them… Many times children don't report because it's a loved one doing it, and they think that's kind of normal."

Marshall said that an uncooperative victim might be due to distrust of law enforcement, makes for a much more difficult prosecution. However, when they run away, as often is the case, getting justice becomes near impossible.

"Absent that victim, you really don't have much of a case," he added.

To help encourage victims and support them during the trial and beyond, Marshall said he's been working on creating an alliance between law enforcement, prosecutors and nonprofits to share information and coordinate. He said he's also been cultivating "nontraditional" law enforcement partners, such as the trucking industry, and getting existing coalitions and agencies to communicate better.

"One of the things about the World Games … one of the positive things is that there was a group who was singularly focused on this question of human trafficking during that period of time. But what that uniquely caused, enforced is people to talk to one another that maybe hadn't done so before. The good thing is we had federal partners and state law enforcement and prosecutors having discussions that maybe we didn't have before and needed to have."

To connect with the author of this story or to comment, email daniel.taylor@1819news.com.

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