New legislation filed by State Rep. Donna Givens (R-Loxley) on Friday would establish a minimum punishment of life imprisonment for human trafficking of a minor in Alabama.
Under existing law, human trafficking in the first degree is a Class A felony.
“As a mother and a grandmother, I’ve always been a proponent of stopping this. I’ve always been extra precautious in watching over first my daughter and then my granddaughters. It seems to be getting worse. I heard of a story just yesterday where an episode in Orange Beach if a mother with children on the beach had not been so diligently her eyes on her daughter she would’ve lost her to a group of five men on the beach right there in Orange Beach. It didn’t happen thank goodness, but it’s happening more around us and my goal is for no one to ever have the broken heart and the hardship of losing a child in this manner. I’ve been told the I-10 corridor is just like the gateway for what is happening,” Givens told 1819 News in an interview on Friday.
The legislation is named after the "Sound of Freedom," a recent hit film that tells the story of Tim Ballard, a Homeland Security agent who quit his job after failing to get clearance to save children from sex traffickers in Colombia.
Givens told 1819 News Alabama would have the toughest punishment in the nation for human trafficking of minors if her legislation is passed into law.
“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 and I just felt like this is something that I needed to do and be very strong about it. I know this sounds like, ‘Wow, that’s a harsh penalty.’ Well, it’s a harsh crime. Someone is losing a child, losing their very own child, their loved one over just pure greed because it’s a money-making racket. I think tough laws need to be made to stop this. Make someone think twice before they actually would engage in this type of activity,” Givens said. “You know, I’d love for Alabama to be the leader in this (and) show that we’re serious about this horrible crime, that we’re serious about stopping it from happening in Alabama…just stepping up and being the leader and saying, ‘No, no longer will we know this is happening in our state without us taking a staunch stand against it.’”
The bill will likely generate a lot of discussion during Alabama’s next legislative session which begins on February 6.
“There will probably be a lot of discussion at the well with this. I think in reality, if everyone would just really stop and think, “What if this happened to my child? What if this happened to my grandchild? What if this happened to anyone that I know?’ Could you imagine the devastation? I don’t want anyone ever to be faced with that and not have stepped up to the plate and tried to do everything I could do to prevent it,” Givens said.
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