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Aniah's Law implemented across Alabama

Aniah's Law is gives judges the ability to deny bail for violent crimes.
Aniah's Law is gives judges the ability to deny bail for violent crimes.
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Aniah's Law passed in November. Now less than two months later, judges across the state are using it. It's meant to deny bail to violent offenders accused of crimes ranging from human trafficking to murder.

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In Anniston, an 18-year-old man arrested in connection to the shooting deaths of two people denied bond. The police department there citing Aniah's Law.

In West Alabama one man charged with first-degree human trafficking was also held without bond for a time. He has since made bail.

"With the human trafficking, the victim is being compelled against their will to have commercial sex with somebody for the benefit of another person.... If I was to stand here and say a juvenile had been raped, you would understand the impact that would have on that juvenile. Take that, that is exactly, what's happening to these human trafficking victims many times a day, seven days a week, until we are able to recover them," said Captain Phil Simpson with West Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force.

READ MORE: Alabama District Attorneys Association pushes Aniah's Law for upcoming election

Captain Phil Simpson said Aniah's Law let's offenders know there's serious consequences for committing a crime.

"It does serve probably as a deterrent because people don't want to go to jail knowing they will have to stay there a couple days before they get out. It let's folks know that if you come to Tuscaloosa and you engage in commercial sex with a minor you it's automatically human trafficking in the first degree and those are some of the consequences, the hardships you face because of your actions, Captain Simpson said.

Aniah's Law expanded the list of crimes in which people can be held on no bail. With the longer list of crimes, some are also concerned about the longer list of people in jail, and it's impacts.

Jerome Dees is the Policy Director with the Southern Poverty Law Center. He is concerned with Aniah's Law, personal rights may be violated.

"Bail is not supposed to be punitive. Bail is merely to ensure public safety, as well as primarily to ensure an individual is going to show up for regularly scheduled court hearing," Dees said. "What we thought we might see, and some stories have begun to come out, what we have begun to see is the unintended consequences of further overcrowding in that system. Overcrowding in jails, and the overcrowding of dockets, and further backlogging of the court process," said Dees.

Dees would like to see more structure added to the language of Aniah's Law.

"We will be getting with the state legislature and try to address some of those procedural protections' that other state's have implemented. Like setting a clear benchmarks of a time frame by which an individual has to be indicted, or a timeframe between arrest and trial," said Dees. "I think we are all concerned in Alabama about public safety in our communities, and insuring people have the right to bail, but they're are procedures s we can make that can hold on to protections that we have for bail."

Aniah's Law does not always apply, so Simpson says makes the work they do during their investigations even more important.

"We don't just set up details to catch the johns, and to catch the commercial sex workers, we do in depth investigations that takes months and years to come together so we can combat this not just on the surface level but in depth," said Simpson.

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