‘Sound of Freedom Act’ signed into law, imposing life sentences on convicted child traffickers

DOTHAN, Ala (WDHN) — A bill imposing harsher punishments on those convicted of human trafficking in Alabama has been signed into law.

House Bill 42, also known as ‘The Sound of Freedom Act,’ will establish an automatic sentence of life imprisonment for those who are found guilty of trafficking a minor.

The bill get its name from the film titled, “The Sound of Freedom,” which tells the story of an ex-DHS agent, Tim Ballard, who works to rescue children from sex trafficking rings.

The film attracted controversy after the lead actor, Jim Caviezel, who plays Ballard, and Ballard himself, either echoed or sympathized with views of the debunked, fringe QAnon conspiracy theory.

In an interview with Variety, director Alejandro Monteverde condemned their support for QAnon, saying the film was not meant to echo any of the fringe theory’s tenants. Monteverde further said he started developing the film in 2015, about two years before QAnon was born.

According to the bill, the defendant does not have to know the exact age of the minor, and they cannot enter a legal defense where they claim they mistook the victim’s age.

The bill passed unanimously in the House and Senate, and Governor Kay Ivey signed it into law on Wednesday afternoon.

“Human trafficking of minors is one of the most heinous and heart-wrenching crimes in America, and because the most defenseless among us are the victims, those found guilty should face the harshest penalties,” said Gov. Ivey.

A release from the governor’s office revealed that with this bill, Alabama has the toughest anti-human trafficking laws in the United States.

In her State of the State address on Feb. 6, Ivey implored the state legislature to pass the bill and send it to her desk.

The bill, sponsored by State Rep. Donna Given (R—District 64), has received exceptional support from state leaders and local ones.

Coffee-Pike County District Attorney James Tarbox openly supports the bill, saying it should deter those considering committing crimes like this.

“I think it’s important to impose stiff punishments for those who prey on children,” said Tarbox.

The bill will take effect on Tuesday, October 1, 2024.

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