Michigan Goes Backwards On SORA Reform
In terms of Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry, the axiom of the State giveth, and the state then taketh away seems to apply. After years of fighting for sane and reasonable reform in Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry, the State finally passed new legislation in July 2011 that reformed many parts of Michigan’s Sex Offender Registration Act, MCLA 28.721 et. seq. This brought the state into compliance with the Federal Adam Walsh Act requirements (Pub. L. 109-248, 120 Stat. 587).
Chief among the July 2011 changes was those related to Tier I offenses. These are offenders that have been convicted of lesser sex offenses such as indecent exposure, certain simple possession of child pornography crimes, and most 4th degree criminal sexual conduct convictions. Tier I offenders are not listed on the public registry at all; rather they would register with the State Police once per year for 15 years, and their names and information would be available only to law enforcement. First tier offenders could petition a judge to have their name removed after 10 years.
These changes were desperately needed, and long overdue, fixes to a registry system in Michigan that was over reaching and broken. They were universally hailed as making the State’s Registry more reasonable and fair.
Now, less than two years later, the State is back, possibly to return Michigan back to the dark ages relating to the harsh punishment of first time offenders of minor sex crimes. A bill was recently introduced in the State Legislature that would make the Tier I registry public for most offenders. The proposed legislation can be read at:http://www.legislature.mi.gov/%28S%28lkmlcwr1zjilcvf3b2hj1iij%29%29/mileg.aspx?page=BillStatus&objectname=2013-SB-0044. This change would certainly be a step in the wrong direction, and would gut one of the most important reforms from the 2011 SORA legislation.