State Rep. Donna Givens, R-Loxley, has filed a bill to automatically sentence individuals convicted of child trafficking to life in prison.
House Bill 42, dubbed the Sound of Freedom Act, adds a single line to Alabama’s criminal code to affect the change.
The bill is named for the 2023 surprise box office hit “The Sound of Freedom,” which loosely depicts events from the life of Tim Ballard, founder of the anti-trafficking organization Operation Underground Railroad.
Under current Alabama law, first-degree human trafficking is already a Class A felony punishable by 20 years to life in prison. Givens’ amendment would dictate that the court impose a life sentence.
“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,” Givens told a far-right media site. “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.”
The movie was quickly embraced particularly by the right, bringing in $50 million. However, the film has been riddled with some controversy. Far-right viewers spun up conspiracy theories about the movie being blacklisted from theaters and streaming services, despite major theater chain AMC showing the film and Amazon Prime picking up the streaming rights.
There has also been criticism of the movie’s lionization of Ballard, whose organization has been considered by some to often exaggerate or fabricate its exploits.
Several women have also come forward and accused Ballard of sexual assault, grooming them to act as his “wife” during stings including to perform sexual acts.