The MI SOR: From non-public tool for LE to public, punitive, ineffective monstrosity in 20 years

By Dawn Wolfe . . . The ACLU and activists seeking changes to Michigan’s 40,000-person sex offender registry may have a new ally: new state Democratic Attorney General Dana Nessel. Earlier this month, Nessel’s office filed briefs in two cases before the state’s Supreme Court, arguing that “the state Sex Offender Registration Act has gone far beyond its purpose and now imposes burdens that are so punitive in their effect that they negate the State’s public safety justification,” according to a press release announcing the action.

Michigan’s Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA) was first passed into law in 1994 as a non-public database tool for law enforcement, with no reporting requirements and a 25-year time limit, except for repeat offenders. Subsequent amendments to the law have not only made the database public, but also significantly increased the reporting burden on past offenders. Today, for example, a past sex offender who has completed their sentence and probation is required to report to the police in person within three days every single time they open an online account to make a purchase or comment online; get a new job; or even buy, rent, or borrow a car.

Additional amendments to the sex offender registration law were passed in 2006 and 2011, and pulled the reins tighter in ways that have been found unconstitutional in federal court. The most recent restrictions forbid past offenders from working, living, or “loitering” within 1,000 feet of a school, place the majority of past offenders on the registry for life, and retroactively placed people into tiers based solely on their past offense, rather than on the likelihood of their committing another offense.

In two decisions in 2015 and 2017 in the case of Does v. Snyder, separate federal courts found Michigan’s geographic limitations—and the amendment placing past offenders on the registry retroactively—unconstitutional. However, since that case was filed by the ACLU of Michigan on behalf of five individuals and not as a class action, the vast majority of past offenders in Michigan are now uncertain about which aspects of the state’s registry laws they have to comply with and which no longer apply to them.

Read the remainder of the piece here at the Daily Kos.

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This topic contains 22 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by Fred Fred 3 months ago.

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  • #52726 Reply

    By Dawn Wolfe . . . The ACLU and activists seeking changes to Michigan’s 40,000-person sex offender registry may have a new ally: new state Democratic
    [See the full post at: The MI SOR: From non-public tool for LE to public, punitive, ineffective monstrosity in 20 years]

  • #52756 Reply

    Wow! It’s finally happening…We have an advocate Attorney General instead of an enemy Attorney General. You know what was cool about this is we had a full conservative court that decided this at the 6th circuit and then who some see as liberal we get an attorney general that wants to do things rationally. This is awesome, and thanks so much Dawn Wolfe for the article. I know we are not done yet, but many thanks go out to the ACLU of Michigan, the University of Michigan law school, and NARSOL for all their hard work. I am a paying member for both the ACLU and NARSOL.

    I am one of those ex post facto cases that is over 25 years old.


  • #52949 Reply

    I listened to todays Oral Arguments, and it was a bit confusing and sounded more like they continuing to kick the can down the road. Why the ACLU is still negotiating with the legislature is ridiculous, we won game over, even our own AG, says it’s punishment and unconstitutional, but yet that was not even mentioned in todays Oral Arguments. It’s time they stop procrastinating and FIX THE DAMN REGISTRY ALREADY. I was convicted in 6-19-1992, I was placed on it for 25 years, and then for life in 2011, then the 6th Circuit rules it punitive and unconstitutional, and yet I am still on it and it will be 27 years on 6-19-2019. I hate to say it but by the time they actually make the necessary changes I will be dead.

    • #53024 Reply

      I’m willing to bet that’s part of the plan, play it out for as long as possible, if you haven’t noticed by now, justice doesn’t matter, only law and bureaucratic stalling.

      • #53115 Reply

        Smack hard against the federal surveillance saints. Plain and simple. To now impede on state level by default impinge upon fed “use of a database to assist law enforcement.” AND the big data agendas over ran established STATE SOVEREIGNTY in determining its own statutes in fiat ways AND the congressional use of ” was in prison for X crime ” when creating statutes.
        American liberty died some the day that OMNIBUS was signed.

        A man voted NAY! “Unfathomable” he said. I would link to the vote in each house HR 5533(94),’& Senate version. Few voted no. Real Americans ALL. Take my word for it, not the politically popular nor profitable choice. But the big data vendors licked their chops & so did the lawyers. They’d convinced ” the people” the USES of the infrastructure electronic would be without pitfalls concerning Democracy & Liberty. Infact, the first indenture, man to machine had began. The upkeep plain property “maintenance”. In fact electronic poll tabulation is insane! It too closely resembles electronic financial transactions to RESPECT “of the people RE:PUBLICA”. When opting to post bad behavior ONLINE Congress by collateral made a leadership example to follow. IT’S OK TO POST the unlawful online. And so the people followed. They made it a hate issue and won.

      • #54359 Reply

        I think they are distracting everyone from the truth which the government has known since 1994 and said nothing and passed all these laws anyways, go on the Doj website and on there website it shows the study the government did in 1994 and again in 2006 and both studies show same results recidivism is below 5% there keeping it going because they make money from it and they use this thing of putting fear into the publics mind and pass these laws to get elected so go look up its on the Doj’s website it’s on

  • #53080 Reply

    Just went in and paid the extortion,
    Still waiting while I turn 63…..

  • #53194 Reply

    There are a couple of issues when it comes to the SOR law, especially in MI where I live: 1) is the impingement of registering 4 times per year in prison under threat of imprisonment, that they created a supervisory tool that hinges on the presence of the registrant identically to parole/probation. There isn’t any need for this because parole/probation exists, can be extended and can even be instituted for life under certain circumstances; 2) loss of privacy and deliberate mass publication and advertising of past crimes that affect the registrant AND THEIR FAMILIES (when a registrant loses his privacy, so does his spouse and children), and this makes it nearly impossible attain even a minimum standard of quality of life; 3) the weight (what is required and prohibited and who is responsible to acquire it) and threat of the registration (threat of imprisonment) is so great that it does not commensurate with the crime (many repeat offenders have life sentences where life sentences are far outside the standard of sentencing guidelines); 4) The SOR act in its administration and through the extension of the states going beyond simple database creation of information and inducting themselves into life-long supervision of free persons having past convictions of sex offenses AND unwarranted life-long public punishments, prohibitions and escalations of hardships for registrants that all of this undermines the judicial process of adjudicating criminal matters and circumstances and applying the necessary sentencing that is appropriate for the crime. The database may have been needed for the FEDs during a time when online information was burgeoning, but all of the information they make burdonsome onto registrants is already easily acquired by law enforcement at their fingertips. The SOR act and laws around it, are unnecessary in light of today’s technology–despite whether or not they are a useful tool to law enforcement. And the current application of the registry laws are nothing more than legislation exercising their power to be heroes too: “Look, I can show that I’m hard on crime too by adding more punishment on free persons even after they’ve served their time.”

  • #53220 Reply

    Sounds like there is still alot going on here with trying to finish this fixing the registration process. We currently have a federal class action suit that I am a part of; which started last June. We have the attorney general helping on the state front to fix the registry. Finally we have the original court case from Judge Cleveland I believe where he asked us and the legislature to work out the fixes. Something that may not have been mentioned so far is judge Cleveland summary last January…he enjoined the the ex post facto people and the 5 Does together. If this does not meet his expectations and the legislature continues to slow walk us; then he will let the judgement stand and the state of Michigan will have no choice. Let me know if I’m off on any of this.


  • #53919 Reply

    Thank you Bill,
    I was not aware of the, the ex post facto people injoined with the 5 doe plaintives . That clears up some of the fog of the judiciary process. Thank you again

  • #53975 Reply

    Sorry, more questions,
    If nothing is done and the expectation is not met ,
    Then the judgement stands and the state will have no choice.
    Has the state removed the original 5 does from the sor?
    Has the state done anything scince the Cleveland ruling?
    So I’m wondering what the states choices are now verses what their choices will be after the time limit runs out?.

    • #54028 Reply

      To Dr.
      To answer your questions….we are currently in basically a holding pattern right. Earlier this month there were 2 cases that were heard before Michigan’s Supreme Court addressing many of the issues covered by the Does 1 decision. The Aclu of Michigan and legislators had basically put the Does 2 class action lawsuit on hold in judge cleland’s court so they could negotiate a better registry…After those two cases were heard by MSC the Aclu went back and for lack of a better term reactivated the lawsuit. The state has until the end of April to respond back to the Aclu’s filing…so who knows now if & when anything is going to get accomplished. The answer to your other question about the original 5 Does is yes, that they were removed from the public registry but are still on privately maybe because their original 25 years isn’t up but I’m not positive on that…..We’re waiting on multiple fronts from Michigan’s Supreme Court and judge Cleland…hope this helps

      • #54351 Reply

        I listened to the oral arguments via YouTube and it seems to me the opposing counsel is trying to postpone until October to give the legislature a chance to fix the problem by re-tooling the registry. It’s just a stall tactic. The state’s attorney knows danged well there is no political will to fix this unsalvageable registry scheme.

        Had I been the appellant’s counsel, I would have pointed out to the court that the previous inaction of the legislature to fix the problem once and for all for all parties involved shows a total lack of political will to do so. I would have pointed out that to legislators re-tooling the registry into a non-punitive scheme that is NOT life-crippling would be political suicide and that their past inaction demonstrates they are NOT going to do a thing and let the courts be the villain in the eyes of the public. The politicians have had every chance to fix this and they have failed at every opportunity to do so.

  • #54063 Reply

    @ josh.
    Thanks, for filling in my questions,
    I wait for May to arrive.

  • #55175 Reply

    Ok now what?

  • #55780 Reply

    Any news on the Michigan SOR ?

    • #55802 Reply

      I recently heard that negotiations with Michigan legislators “went much better than expected” due to the change in government on the Does v. Snyder front. There should be more information about that in June Digest. And we hope to know the Michigan Supreme Court ruling on the other two cases before them by July.

  • #56472 Reply

    Did I read the Detroit free press right, ex post facto is now put off until July?

    • #56476 Reply

      I don’t know which article you read. The one I read said that Michigan lawmakers have 90 days to change the law, or it goes back to the court and the judge will decide what changes, or to just shut down the whole registry.
      As for the other two similar cases that are currently before Michigan’s Supreme Court, I think the chances are good that there will be a ruling by the end of July before the court goes on recess. It is tradition to try to decide all pending cases after oral arguments have been heard before the end of the term.
      The Does v. Snyder case is the one you likely read about in the Detroit Free Press, but the two other cases before Michigan’s Supreme Court are very significant too. I recommend that you follow the below site to be the first to know when they decide. The cases to watch for are, The People v. Betts and Michigan v. Snyder (That is Michigan v. David Snyder, not Does v. Gov. Rick Snyder)

      Expand the list that says 18-19 Term Opinions.

  • #58097 Reply

    So, once again, talk about mission creep !
    Ex post facto has been kicked down the calendar for 3 more months,,,,,, ex post facto is a has been .

    • #58107 Reply

      Do you have a link to your source? I have no idea what you are talking about.

  • #58110 Reply

    Did I miss interpret this ?
    It’s from the link that you posted punitive, ex post facto
    Invited Amici:
    Attorney General
    Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan
    Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan
    American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan
    Interested persons or groups may move for permission to file amicus briefs

    Approximate due date of amicus curiae briefs: October 9, 2019.

    • #58116 Reply

      I still don’t know what you are talking about. That is a link to the opinions.. No opinions have been released for the cases we are watching. All parties have already filed their briefs back in March. Be specific. What case are you talking about. What is the date on whatever document you are reading.

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