Ward’s bill seeks to strengthen child sex offender act

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

MONTGOMERY – The Alabama Senate has passed a bill sponsored by state Sen. Cam Ward, R-Alabaster, aimed at protecting children from online predators. The bill is now being considered by the state House of Representatives.

Ward

Ward

As the state’s law is currently written, it is illegal to disseminate or knowingly possess obscene material of children younger than 17 “where monetary consideration is exchanged.”

If passed, Ward’s bill would clarify the existing law by removing the monetary consideration provision, therefore making all sharing and possession of obscene material of minors illegal.

“Minors are increasingly at risk on the Internet, especially on social media sites like Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram,” Ward wrote in a statement. “These sites and many others are a conduit for sexually explicit material of minors, and our goal here was to expand the Child Offender Act to clearly ban the online sharing of such heinous material.”

The possession of explicit material of minors with intent to disseminate is a Class B felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison, according to Alabama law.

“I appreciate Senator Cam Ward’s leadership in sponsoring our bill, SB 179, and gaining its unanimous passage in the Senate,” said Attorney General Luther Strange. “As this legislation moves forward, I hope that the House will take swift action to protect children from exploitation by sex offenders.”