By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Tuesday, May 3, the Alabama Senate passed House Bill 433, the Safe Harbor Act. HB433 was sponsored by State Representative Jack Williams (R-Vestavia) and was recommended by the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force.
Rep. Williams said late Tuesday, “HB433, The Safe Harbor Act has passed the Alabama State Senate. The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.”
Williams said, “This bill protects underage victims of human trafficking and increases penalties for those seeking to purchase sex.”
It passed both the Senate and the House unanimously.
Speaking on the floor of the legislature Williams said that HB433 would raise the fine for solicitation to $500. For the third offense it becomes a class C felony. It also moves solicitation from municipal court to district court. The bill would also stop the courts from treating a minor who is selling sex as a criminal and instead goes after the people who are soliciting the minor for sex and the people who are marketing that minor.
Rep. Merika Coleman-Evans (D-Midfield) said that she supported Williams efforts to fight sex trafficking in Alabama, the bill, and commended him for his work.
William told the legislators, “We have got to start taking prostitution, particularly child prostitution, seriously.
Rep. Jack Williams said that the internet has provided opportunities for men to seek out sex, particularly with children, like never before. They are predators for children. Most children are pimped out the first time by a family member or a close friend.
Williams said that this is just a first step. He will come back next year with an even stronger bill. “We are going to plant a flag that says you are not going to rape a child in Alabama
Rep. Coleman-Evans said that currently the victims end up being criminalized instead of the people that are trafficking them.
Rep. Jack Williams from Vestavia is on Alabama’s Human Trafficking Task Force. Human trafficking, most of it trafficking women and children for sex, is the fastest growing criminal enterprise in America and has become as large as the illegal arms trade globally.
The bill now goes to the Governor for his signature.