Michigan SORA changes signed into law

By Beth LaBlanc . . .

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Tuesday signed a bill that would eliminate school safety zones and certain appearance requirements in Michigan’s Sex Offender Registration Act.

The changes, made to comply with federal court orders that called the current law unenforceable, were among 80 bills passed by the Legislature during its lame duck session and signed by Whitmer on Tuesday.

The bill made several tweaks to the law, with the largest being the elimination of school safety zones, which prohibit registered sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of schools.

The changes also would eliminate mandates requiring immediate in-person appearances to update changes to offenders’ email addresses, street addresses or vehicle information. The new law lengthens the time period for reporting those changes and allows state police to create a more manageable system for reporting.

The legislation requires offenders to be removed from the registry if their crime had been expunged or if the individual was sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act.

“We needed to find a way to rework it if we wanted a registry at all,” bill sponsor Rep. Jim Lower, R-Eureka Township, said upon the bill’s House passage earlier this month.

The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of appeals ruled several years ago that school zone bans and reporting requirements enacted after the initial law was passed amounted to unconstitutionally retroactive punishment. They also were “very burdensome” to the point that they resembled “the ancient punishment of banishment,” the court said.

In 2019, Detroit U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland ordered the Legislature to change the law or lose it altogether since the state essentially would be maintaining a legally unenforceable law.

If they didn’t change the law by March 20, Cleland said in February, the act would no longer be enforceable against those who offended before 2011, when the immediate reporting requirements were added. The school safety zone language was added in 2006.

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Viewing 3 reply threads
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    • #79541 Reply
      Facts should matter

      They also were “very burdensome” to the point that they resembled “the ancient punishment of banishment,” the court said.

      Are these policymakers, council members and lawmakers really THAT out of touch, tone deaf and oblivious? They registry, by extension, IS banishment, but they are more afraid of angry moms than doing the right thing

    • #79562 Reply

      Are we supposed to wait for instructions in the mail? Do I have to go check in right now? A lot is riding on the line here if I don’t get something right. I’m afraid to even call and ask questions. I told a friend what it’s like to live like this once. I said imagine if you were threatened with prison if you didn’t keep your Facebook page up to date. Imagine getting a felony up to ten years if you’re late updating the tags on your car.

    • #79766 Reply

      Is HYTA off the hook now or what?

    • #79824 Reply

      what about having my term on the list changed to life? I have done everything right to be back into society…this is clearly continued punishment.

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