Changes to the Sex Offender Registry are Pending

Major changes are coming to the sex offender registry system, the question is now, what kind and who will decide the new rules.

In 2016, a federal judge ruled the state’s Sex Offender Registry Act was unconstitutional. It was too punitive in some areas and didn’t have the intended impact.

Since that ruling, no changes have been made so now a judge is finally deciding what will be done.

“It’s unconstitutional because it doesn’t work,” says ACLU senior staff attorney Miriam Aukerman.

The ACLU says the sex offender registry does not work and a federal judge agreed with them. Since the law hasn’t been changed since that ruling four years ago, another judge is deciding right now whether to push the issue.

“Everybody agrees, the courts have already said that this law is ineffective,” says Ackerman, “It’s unconstitutional the question is who is going to rewrite it?”

It would be up to the legislature to make changes, like what crimes qualify and for how long.

“I think there are those that we need to keep harder track of, longer,” says Corey Wiggins, chief assistant prosecutor for Wexford County.

If the ACLU had their choice, they’d scrap it all. But they do welcome any changes that lower the 44,000 Michiganders on the list.

“We probably have way more people on the registry than we need to have,” says Mecosta County prosecutor Brian Thiede, “But really knowing who we’ll need to have on there, we won’t know until perhaps it’s too late.”

One of the big advantages of the registry is that it’s public. One of the big disadvantages is that it’s public. Michiganders can go online and put in their location and find anywhere near them where sex offenders may be registered. It doesn’t go into details on what the crime was and that water downs the entire system as a whole.

“Just logging on, they’re not going to know a difference between a CSC-1 or CSC-4 so they’ll just see sex offender and run with it,” says Wiggins.

“There’s no discretion for the court to discern whether this person should go on it or not,” says Thiede.

This pending ruling won’t change the law but may put a deadline and consequence on the decision, forcing the legislature to act.

“We’re hoping that the judge will say, ‘Legislature get busy,’” says Aukerman.