May 24, 2015

No discretion for indiscretions

The registry, a political lie! To the public and those required to register thereunder. Changes over time are proof that lawmakers hold nothing sacrosanct, they make changes without regard for who they hurt. Will this unconstitutional ruling result in less harm? History tells us. NO...
5-24-15 Michigan:

Federal judge slams Michigan registry

As Zachery Anderson's case shows, sexual predators aren't the only people found on Michigan's Sex Offender Registry.

But that could change after a recent federal court ruling calling parts of the Michigan law unconstitutional.

American Civil Liberties Union attorney Miriam Aukerman argued the case for a Grand Rapids man on the sex offender registry, though he ended up marrying the underage girl he had sex with. The couple have two children, and being a sex offender has kept him from attending his own children's school events.

Aukerman said the federal judge ruled that the sex offender registry effectively functions as a trap with complex rules that are hard to comply with.

"He said that the exclusion zones (around parks and schools) are unconstitutional and too expansive," she said. "In Grand Rapids, almost 50 percent of the city is off limits in that sex offenders can't work, live or loiter there."

Her view is that the Michigan sex offender registry is too stringent and counterproductive.

"It doesn't distinguish between who's a danger and who's not," she said. " ... If you want law enforcement to monitor those who are at highest risk, you should do risk assessments like other states do. Their registries are smaller and more focused to concentrate on those at highest risk."

She called teen situations such as the one involving Zachery Anderson out of proportion to the offense.

"We're demonizing those who shouldn't be," she said. "When it involves adolescent sexual behavior, people grow up and age out of the behavior. It's time for the Legislature to adopt a common sense approach that targets public safety and focuses on facts and not fear. ...

"One of the problems is that the law doesn't give judges discretion to decide if putting someone on the registry is appropriate."

She said Michigan has the fourth highest number of people per capita on the sex offender registry in the country. She said 80 percent of registrants are on it for life.

ACLU legislative director Shelli Weisberg said Legislative change might not come right away, but she expects major changes to in the next four to eight years.

"There have been some good discussions," she said. "Eight to 12 years ago, no one wanted to talk about it, but there have been some good questions the last five years about whether it's an effective use of taxpayer money and whether it serves public safety." ..Source.. by DEBRA HAIGHT

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