Alabama strengthens laws against human trafficking
Human trafficking is now a felony in Alabama. A new law, signed on June 25, is intended to make it possible for local law enforcement officers to investigate cases in which people are forced into involuntary servitude through violence or threats, often as prostitutes or laborers.
Alabama has seen several high-profile cases of human trafficking in recent years. For example, three Kansas City, Mo.-area companies and 12 people were accused in a federal indictment last year of operating a nationwide human trafficking and racketeering scheme that involved fraudulent labor contracts in 14 states, including Alabama. Previously, only the FBI investigated human trafficking cases in the state. “We cannot be fooled into thinking this crime happens only in other places. It’s happening right here in Alabama,” Gov. Bob Riley said in a statement. “This new law gives our law enforcement officers another way to protect people.”
The law, which goes into effect on July 1, brings Alabama in line with 44 other states that criminalize human trafficking. In addition to criminalizing human trafficking, the law provides mandatory restitution for victims and gives them a means to bring civil cases against traffickers. Volunteers with the Birmingham-based group Freedom to Thrive, which works to raise awareness and eliminate human trafficking in the state, joined Riley and bill co-sponsors, state Rep. Merika Coleman and Sen. Wendell Mitchell, at the bill signing ceremony.
Read the press release on the new law.