There are over 15,000 acts of human trafficking in the United States every year. Until this spring there were no laws in Alabama that made trafficking a state crime. Those who engage in this insidious practice knew they only had to avoid the attention of federal law enforcement officials in order to operate in our state. Alabama had become a safe haven, of sorts, for those criminals.
After reading a news article about a trafficking ring in north Alabama that had been broken up by federal agents, Rep. Jack Williams contacted state officials. He quickly discovered the giant loophole in Alabama law which prevented state law enforcement from taking action against these brazen criminals. He immediately sprang into action, building a bipartisan coalition of legislators and outside interest groups to draft legislation that would correct this horrible injustice.
On April 23rd, 2010 the Alabama Legislature passed Williams' bill. Because of his hard work and dedication to this issue, legislators honored Williams and fellow House member Merika Coleman by naming the bill The Williams-Coleman Human Trafficking Act. Under Williams' leadership, Alabama became the 44th state to pass law outlawing this crime. Alabama's new law is considered one of the most comprehensive bills in the nation. One Alabama watchdog group called the bill "the most significant bill to pass the Legislature in 2010."
The Williams-Coleman Human Trafficking Act will provide protection to many victims, generally unseen by the public eye, and will give a voice to those who have been silenced by the most heinous types of abuse. The new law also makes our state safer because of the stiff penalties that will be leveled against some of the worst criminals in our state.