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ACLU pushes for removal of sex offender registry

NOW: ACLU pushes for removal of sex offender registry

MICHIGAN -- Could the sex offender registry soon be a thing of the past? The American Civil Liberties Union wants to possibly get rid of it, saying the registry doesn't work. Right now, there are two cases out of Michigan, including a class action lawsuit, claiming several parts of the registry are unconstitutional.

“In August 2016, the federal court of appeals held that Michigan’s registry is unconstitutional.” Attorney for the ACLU in Michigan, Miriam Aukerman, said.

Aukerman represents hundreds of convicted sex offenders fighting the public registry and some of the sex offender restrictions imposed by the state. That suit is in response to the state of Michigan not coming into compliance with the Court of Appeals decision.

“Basically what the court of appeals said is that the registry is so ineffective, so broken, that it violates the constitution. What we know, through research, is that registries don’t work. They don’t keep people safe.”

The Michigan registry was initially created in 1994 as a database for law enforcement. Since then, there have been major changes. In 1999, the registry was posted on the internet. In 2004, pictures were added. In 2006, living and working restrictions were imposed, keeping offenders at least 100 feet from schools. In 2011, a tier system was implemented, which determines how long an offender is on the list, retroactively extending registration for some offenders, for life, in some cases. In 2013, the state imposed an annual fee for people on the registry.

People who were convicted prior to registry amendments were impacted by each change. The court determined the state couldn't retroactively punish offenders. And, found some blanket restrictions, like prohibiting people to live within 1000 feet of a school, are unconstitutional if there isn't an individual threat assessment of the offender to show the restrictions are necessary.

“The problem is the legislature hasn’t come into compliance with that court decision.” Aukerman said.

Aukerman believes the best solution is an overhaul of the system and a dismantling of the public database.

“Registries are counter-productive. They take people and push them to the margins of society. They take away the very things that we know make people successful, which are family support, housing and employment.” She said.

“It gives them a map. It’s got the pinpoints. This is where the sex offenders are residing and I can tell you, it’s of great solace for a mother with kids who wants to know what her neighborhood is about.” Cass County Prosecutor, Victor Fitz, said.

Fitz says he agrees that some people on the registry may not deserve to be there and thinks it's reasonable for the courts to look at individual assessments. But, overall, he believes the database is key to public safety.

“This is throwing the baby out with the bathwater 100 times over in my opinion.” Fitz said.

And, without the registry, he believes prison sentences for sex offenders could be drastically extended.

“The courts know the registry protects people in the community. If you take that away, judges may look at it with a very different light. So, be careful what you ask for.” He said.

The state has just a little more than a week to respond to the ACLU lawsuit. The ACLU hopes the end result is state lawmakers passing new sex offender legislation. 


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cm1 165 days ago
ABOLISH it. This list has got to go. I still cannot believe this stupid list is even possible let alone still around. Can you really use a list to make people feel safer? SERiOUSLY? If anything, it is just a money maker fear-inducing scheme - honestly a law sent straight from hell. There is no research that backs it up and still lawmakers are passing such stupid laws.

Way to go to increase homeless and hopelessness in America. Way to go ACLU!
Emma 171 days ago
Why do these sorts of articles always seem to end with an unchallenged, nonsensical quote from a prosecutor or similar pushing this nonsense. The ENTIRE point is that these opportunists are dishonest and causing harm. If you want to get "all sides", then fine, but don't put that garbage at the end, totally absent even basic fact checking. I know it plays into the narrative, but it's not appropriate.

And of course, we don't have interviews or quotes with the people this is affecting, do we?
wazupdetroithere 174 days ago
The laws needs to change As well as this list Needs to GO! ...it is unconstitutional and the state has abused its power to punish many men in this state with pure B.S ...They have also retro actively applied it unconstitutionally to many people with out due process, Beware ..it could just be you or someone you know soon …. Sex crimes in Michigan are a joke they Need no evidence to convict someone on pure B.S ...Its simple it needs to GO !
DrayHoffmann 175 days ago
You have a witch hunting news media, like Detroit's WXYZ, scaring people about losing their "right" to protect their children from "predators". According to Channel 7 News here, EVERYONE on the registry is a "predator", which is an outright lie. Well, with what we already know about the fake news media in this country, it shouldn't surprise anyone that they would do this. The whole law is unconstitutional, because it sets up a punishment of lifetime probation punishable by imprisonment for absconding (yup, that's the exact word used here) for being a sex offender. Well, there is no law against BEING a sex offender. There is a law against COMMITTING sex offenses. There's a big difference between the two. The registry doesn't protect anyone, but it does set up a second class citizenry that strips people forever of their Constitutional rights, which is NOT supposed to happen here for ANY reason. As for longer prison terms, well the judges do that anyways with a complicit parole board that maxes most sex offenders out instead of paroling them when they've finished their minimum sentence. All the registry does is feed people's desire to be nosey. "Protecting" children is just the excuse; for if they REALLY cared about child protection, they would register drug dealers who hire kids to sell their drugs to other kids, drunken drivers who repeatedly drink, drive, and cause serious accidents that kill and main children. and child abuser who beat kids. The registry is just a way for the government to find a loophole in the Constitution to where they can eventually do this to everyone, like the communist countries do. It needs to go. If you are worried about pedophiles, the solution is simple: life in prison first time every time without parole, but this State had better change MCL 750.520 (H) before they do this. If you want to know what that says, look it up.
JohnnyD5311 176 days ago
This is the best damn news I’ve read in a while. Say bye bye to that horrible registry. Remember all the politicians who fight these lawsuits too, re-election day will come up again and again and you have every reason to advocate against these cruel politicians trying to destroy their own citizens lives. They very well could be in that hot seat one day, on a registry, and that’s the only way they’ll sing a different tune.
cm86 176 days ago
I have been educated on this issue and truly find that when I heard about it, I was like "wait.....what?" When someone does time, they should be done. People are trying to move on, learn from their past and be better people. You cannot blanket an entire registry for all.

The registry is punishment. It is better to get rid of it as it has caused more harm than good. I hate that it also bans people from not able to travel which isn't that a fundamental right, to have "move freely"?

International Megan's Law needs to be really looked at and banned too. It's cruel and unjust.

I hate the stupid registry. Let's make America great again...truly.
G 177 days ago
It's about Time. Now when it is removed in Michigan, will Other states be Forced to Fallow Suit?
This is truly a beautiful day!!;"-)
DrayHoffmann G 175 days ago
They would have to go after the national law as well, passed by Congress that forces the States to have these things. Oprah Breakwindfrey was behind that one and guess who signed it into law-none other that the biggest rapist of them all, Bill Clinton.
Pro235 178 days ago
The registry doesn't work. It's antiquated. Besides, despite what may be said on shows like "Law & Order" and other so-called authority figures who wish to employ scare tactics, many if not all of them on that thing have a recidivism rate of zilch in comparison to other offenses.
Will 178 days ago
The Jack study completed in 1962 pre-registering tracted 3423 sex offenders for 15 years with an average yearly re-offense rate of 2/10 of one percent. So even before the registry began and people were forced into treatment programs there was no high recidivism. So no matter how you put it rather trying to justify the existence of the registry or the need for law enforcement to be able to track former offenders or the Legislature trying to increase the amount of prison time based on the possible future dangerousness. The theory behind all of those is nothing more than a lie based on bigotry and hatred and fear. The reality is that once a person has been caught and punished for sexual misdeeds the possibility of them continuing along that path is extremely unlikely. http://sosen.org/blog/2019/02/24/the-importations-of-reconviction-rates.html
DerekLogueOfOnceFallen 178 days ago
The registry is a hydra,as long as it is allowed to exist, will continue to grow and destroy lives. The registry must be abolished.
Dustin 178 days ago
If courts want to give out longer sentences should the registry (rightfully) be abolished, that sounds like a tacit admission that registration is, in fact, punishment despite scores of very weak claims to the contrary.

On top of its uselessness regarding public safety, the registry serves no law enforcement purpose. There's nothing on it not on the National Crime Information Center and state counterparts. Even in the VERY few occasions where registrants commit another offense (sexual or otherwise), his status as a registrant is never known until after identification or arrest. The only crime the registry plays a role in prosecuting is failure to register or update.

The registry exists for money, period. Grants are solicited and budgets proposed based on its size, which is why dead, incarcerated, and those who have left the remain registered and there are increases in registerable offenses every year. A secondary function is to give crooked legislators a means of covering their own misdeeds or obscure ones a chance to make a name for himself.
Wise_Jedi Dustin 178 days ago
It sounds like sour grapes to me. "If we can't destroy your life with our precious registry, then we'll see to it you rot in prison for the rest of your natural lives!" Sounds like attempted blackmail and an outright threat to intimidate people off the trail of this unconstitutional monstrosity. Let 'em blow and bluster all they want. They're in a losing fight and KNOW IT. This is the tactic those in power use when they know they're on the ropes and about to receive the knock-out punch that puts them down for the count.

This threat shows their utter exasperation and desperation.
VickiHenry 178 days ago
Sex Offender Registry Debate

https://video.womenagainstregistry.org/Emily-Horowitz-debate2018-02-12.mp4
VickiHenry 178 days ago
Women Against Registry advocates for the families who have loved ones required to register as sexual offenders. More about the issue:
According to the NCMEC map there are over 912,000 men, women and children (as young as 8 and 10 in some states) required to register and the "crimes" range from urinating in public (indecent exposure), sexting, incest, mooning, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, or spiteful student, viewing abusive OR suggestive images of anyone 18 years old or younger, playing doctor, prostitution, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, rape, endangering the welfare of a child, the old bait-n-switch internet stings (taking sometimes 12 months before a person steps over the line) guys on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities and many others.

If you multiply the number on the registry by 2 or 3 family members you can clearly see there are well over 3 million wives, children, moms, aunts, girlfriends, grandmothers and other family members who experience the collateral damage of being murdered, harassed, threatened, children beaten, have signs placed in their yards, homes set on fire, vehicles damaged, asked to leave their churches and other organizations, children passed over for educational opportunities, have flyers distributed around their neighborhood, wives lose their jobs when someone learns they are married to a registrant....all these things occur when these people try to hold their family together and provide the three things that professionals indicate are needed for successful reintegration; a job, a place to live and a “positive” support system.

The Supreme Court’s Crucial Mistake About Sex Crime Statistics – ‘Frightening and High’ (Debunks the 80% recidivism rate cited by now SCOTUS Justice Kennedy)

It is very important that you read the abstract below and then the full 12 page essay by Ira Mark and Tara Ellman.
ABSTRACT This brief essay reveals that the sources relied upon by the Supreme Court in Smith v. Doe, a heavily cited constitutional decision on sex offender registries, in fact provide no support at all for the facts about sex offender re-offense rates that the Court treats as central to its constitutional conclusions. This misreading of the social science was abetted in part by the Solicitor General’s misrepresentations in the amicus brief it filed in this case. The false “facts” stated in the opinion have since been relied upon repeatedly by other courts in their own constitutional decisions, thus infecting an entire field of law as well as policy making by legislative bodies. Recent decisions by the Pennsylvania and California supreme courts establish principles that would support major judicial reforms of sex offender registries, if they were applied to the facts. This paper appeared in Constitutional Commentary Fall, 2015. Google: Frightening and High Essay

A study reviewing sex crimes as reported to police revealed that:
a) 93% of child sexual abuse victims knew their abuser;
b) 34.2% were family members;
c) 58.7% were acquaintances;
d) Only 7% of the perpetrators of child victims were strangers;
e) 40% of sexual assaults take place in the victim’s own home;
f) 20% take place in the home of a friend, neighbor or relative (Jill Levenson, PhD, Lynn University)

There is a tremendous need to fund programs like "Stop It Now" that teaches about grooming behaviors and other things at age-appropriate levels in their Circles of Safety.

Our question to the public is one of, when does redemption begin?

We support the principles of Restorative/Transformative Justice; restore the victim, restore the offender AND restore the community.

Lastly, our country is proud to be 'the incarceration nation' with 5% of the world's population and 25% of the world's incarcerated.
DrayHoffmann VickiHenry 175 days ago
Love this article. Thank you for sharing it, Vicki. We need more people like you out there sharing the common sense truth you just shared.
Wise_Jedi 178 days ago
https://www.michigan.gov/documents/ag/REcd.153696_Snyder_SORA_br_MSC-FINAL_marked_645821_7.pdf

https://www.michigan.gov/documents/ag/Recd.148981_Betts_SORA_br_MSC-FINAL_marked_645819_7.pdf

This is what your own STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL endorsed and submitted to the MI Supreme Court.
Emma Wise_Jedi 171 days ago
God that is disgusting..
Wise_Jedi 178 days ago
When the state's own Attorney General submits two amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs in support of the MI registry being ruled unconstitutional, that tells you something major right there.

If the registry was truly about public safety as the lying politicians and sorry supporters claim, the law would have been crafted in harmony with the LATEST scientific research that has proven time and time again the following FACTS:

1. Sex offenders DO NOT have a 'FRIGHTENING AND HIGH' recidivism rate. In fact, sexual offenders across the board have one of THE lowest recidivism rates of any other class of felons, save murderers. I find it most disturbing that multiple scientific studies backed by empirical evidence have been conducted by numerous states that soundly debunk the "frightening and high" myth of an 80-85% recidivism rate for sexual offenders AND YET THE COURTS SUMMARILY IGNORE THESE STUDIES AND DEFAULT BACK TO A RULING FROM SCOTUS THAT WAS BASED ON PROVEN FALSE DATA (McCune v. Lile). That is deliberate indifference to the facts. When facts are considered irrelevant, something other than protecting the public safety is at work.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TCkFg7o733k

2. Residency restrictions are totally ineffective. 90% of child sexual abuse victims are abused by members of their immediate family (parent/step-parent, grandparent, uncle, cousin, etc) or by some other loved and trusted friend. Most of the sexual victimization of a child takes place within the child's own house, without regard to said house's proximity to schools, parks, playgrounds, etc. Residency and work restrictions actually INCREASE the risk of this class of offenders. to the community by pushing them away from steady employment, stable housing and a positive support system.

3. That sex offenders have been targeted and murdered by violent vigilantes because said vigilantes had the registrant's picture, address and (thanks to Google Maps, Mapblaster, etc.) a road map to their front door.

https://nypost.com/2013/07/25/husband-wife-vigilante-team-killed-two-planned-to-work-way-through-sex-offender-registry-hit-list/

No other class of felons are subjected to post-release legislation that knowingly puts their life, limb and property in immediate danger. There are well-documented cases of vigilantes using the registry to hunt down registrants to either harass, assault, kill or vandalize their property AND YET THE REGISTRIES REMAIN OPEN TO THE PUBLIC ON-LINE WITH NO RESTRICTIONS OR LIMITATIONS. I suppose if a registrant's family is targeted, harassed, harmed or their children bullied it doesn't matter since that's just the cost of doing business. The very ones who stand up for child safety the most vociferously are dead silent when it comes to the abuse, discrimination and harassment the innocent children of registrants receive. I guess registrants' children are "the other" that do not matter as if the acts of the parent are allowed to devalue the innocent child who had NOTHING to do with their parent's action.
Levi Wise_Jedi 177 days ago
You are correct and have a strong argument. It is not just vigilantes that target offenders and it is not just offenders being targeted. I have had access and seen Michigan cases and Mrs Ackerman has them of the Michigan State police actually stalking houses and oogling in the bathroom windows the teen age and pre-teenage daughters of people on the registry as they changed, bathed ect.. When the officers in questions were brought in for investigation? Documents from the investigation department not only confirming of this deplorable activity but approving it!!! The registry's have never been proven to stop or even hinder one single crime. BUT they have multitudes of suicides of innocent youth who couldn't take the bullying because people they loved were on the registry.. The registry's have caused multitudes of young girls to be the target for sexual attacks and behavior because they are related to someone on the registry. The registry's have multitudes of crimes and injured hundreds and thousands of innocent children both directly and indirectly BUT never proven to protect a single one..The registry's were never meant to succeed as a crime fighting tool they only were meant to succeed as a shaming tool..As an after the effect punishment tool designed to haunt,shame and torment no matter at what cost or who must suffer..
Wise_Jedi 178 days ago
It sounds like the state of Michigan is saying, "If you take our precious registry away, we'll start handing out life without parole sentences to sex offenders across the board and simply eliminate the need for a registry. We'll just see to it they are forever removed from society." Well, let's see how long such a policy can be fiscally upheld. Sounds like a bunch of sorry, sour-grapes bullies who are scared they're about to lose their favorite instrument of torture and retribution. Tough noogies!! It's way past time for this monstrosity to end!
Levi 178 days ago
The registry's were never created to protect or stop crime..THEY cant and dont. scientific and statistical proven fact that was proven long ago...If registry's stopped crime why aren't all crimes on registry's? Isn't the goal to stop crime? They wanted a system that created someone to hate, a distraction. registry's are created for the same reason as the scarlet letters,sun down, jim Crow laws, and witch burning's of the past, as a way to give the ignorant someone to hate and appear to be fixing a problem while really just making it worse and more dangerous... Any after the fact legislation will never work, doesnt take a genius to figure it out.only takes idiots to accept it...The proven systems that work will never happen. if they fixed the problem their would be no one to hate and no way to funnel dirty money.. You can know where an ex (any criminal) lives and it wont stop them committing the crime if they chooses to re-commit..They wont be doing it from home.. duh..all you do with registry is make sure that people who have made mistakes can never succeed afterword. and force them to watch while you make pariahs of their family and society abuses their children with your blessing.. If they can not succeed because of you and they are forced to watch as you make victims of every member of their family then you have created the "dangerous situation" you were supposed to be preventing..People who can not succeed are dangerous, NOT people who succeed..People with something to live for learn from mistakes and do not make mistakes again because they dont want to risk loosing again.. People with nothing to loose have nothing to live for.. It is only a matter of time before those registry's and the hate it breeds backfires horribly. get rid of them now before it happens.. You have destroyed enough innocent lives of children and family members with them.. The registry's have PROVEN to create victims but have not been proven to stop even one crime..how is that an effective tool for anything? a solar power flashlight on a football bat is more productive.. spend our money on rehabilitation and integration not segregation and slavery.
Wise_Jedi Levi 178 days ago
I agree with your reply 100%, my friend. Read my post and share your thoughts, please.
Tom 178 days ago
ACLU .......liberals.
Cleaning up the mess made by the Conservatives as usual.
Levi Tom 177 days ago
on many things I disagree with the ACLU but sometimes even a blind squirrel can find a nut.. On this the ACLU is spot on.. Registry's are not only unethical but frankly just plain stupid and bad for society. 1st. If someone really is a super danger to society why wasn't that taken into account at sentencing? 2nd. If some really are so dangerous then making them homeless,hopeless,angry,and disenfranchised is going to place society in more danger not less. "retribution and unending torment" sounds great for small minds, but in reality people with nothing to loose are dangerous. Even a cowardly dog will bite if you kick it in the corner long enough.. 3rd.the registry's can not protect because they are after any crime has already been committed BUT they have proven to harm and even in many cases cause death of innocent children , spouses and loved ones, even mistaken identities!.. two wrongs dont make a right ..it has to end.. remember what you do to your neighbor today may be you tomorrow.
Emma Tom 171 days ago
Just like when they are protecting your precious gun rights? right...

Speaking of which, there is probably no one more in need of personal protection than someone on a sex offender registry. They are routinely targeted.
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