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Alabama Gov. Kay IveyShutterstock

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (LifeSiteNews) — The Republican governor of Alabama has signed what she is calling the “toughest anti-human trafficking law in the nation.” 

Seventy-nine-year-old Kay Ivey approved the “Sound of Freedom Act” last Wednesday, fulfilling a promise she made at her most recent state of the state address.  

The measure passed the state house and senate with unanimous support, 1819 News reports. It mandates a minimum of life imprisonment for first-time offenders over 19 who are found guilty of trafficking a minor in the state. Those who are under 18 will be charged with a Class A felony, which carries with it at least 20 years in prison. According to Fox 10 News, existing Alabama laws against trafficking mandate a ten to 99-year sentence for a first offense. 

Ivey has served as governor of the reliably red state since 2017, having filled various other roles in Alabama politics for decades. In a press release, she said, “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.” 

Leaders of various anti-trafficking groups have heralded the bill, which will take effect on October 1, 2024. End it Alabama reports that the state has had a human trafficking law since 2010 and that the “Safe Harbor Act,” passed in 2016, sought to protect children and strengthened penalties for persons soliciting prostitutes. 

Alabama Daily News relates that the Sound of Freedom Act “does not require that the perpetrator be aware of their victim’s age to be given a life sentence, nor is mistaking the victim’s age a legitimate legal defense.” The website also reports that more than 1,500 victims have been identified by the National Human Trafficking Hotline in Alabama since 2007. 

The legislation is named after the movie Sound of Freedom released by Angel Studios last year. It featured The Passion of the Christ star Jim Caviezel in the role of Tim Ballard, a former Homeland Security agent who saved children from traffickers in Colombia. The movie became a fan favorite among conservatives and pro-family advocates across the world. El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele screened the movie at the country’s presidential palace to over 1,500 people and signed an anti-trafficking measure into law in July 2023. Former U.S. President Donald Trump showed it at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida that same month.