Reply To: Sex offender registries endanger the lives they’re meant to protect

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Darrel Hoffman

Being in Michigan, I can tell you what a nightmare this draconian law really is. It was passed because of a sex offender who was paroled after 25 years in prison and went into our Genesee County area where he kidnapped, raped, and killed four young girls. He claimed he told the Parole Board that he would re-offend again, but they paroled him anyways. Because of that, King John I of Engler, the governor at the time, got draconian laws passed to deny sex offenders parole and set up the State’s registry. Since that time, subsequent governors, like Aunt Jenny Granholm and now, Gov. Nerd (Snyder) have added new restrictions that the 6th Circuit overturned, finally. But many federal judges before this ruling said the law is unconstitutional, only to be overturned by the higher courts. I, myself, was denied re-entrance to Michigan State University to complete my degree because of my “offense” even though I was never accused when I was a student there. I have been fired from a job because of the registry, and had a “preacher” go through my neighborhood with my and my roommate’s profile on his cellphone showing my neighbors. Even though our registry makes that a misdemeanor to take info off the website and publish, distribute, or utter this information, the police won’t enforce it, and we were shamed before our neighbors. We have several that shun us because of this. I have restrictions on me at church as to where and when I can be or not be in certain areas and have been denied good jobs because of this. However, the good news is that God has opened doors for me where I did finish my degree at Wayne State University in Detroit and the City Itself hired me as a clerk in its finance department, and they do know about my “offense”. I’m also the organist at my church and well respected and loved. Most of my neighbors accept my roommate and me and actually were very incensed with the “preacher” who came around to shame us. Why have these things worked out for me? It’s because those I am around see my everyday life and conduct and know that such offenses are impossible for me. Michigan’s Criminal Sexual Conduct law is the most heinous and unconstitutional laws in the country, because it doesn’t require any physical proof of a crime, but the testimony of a victim. It’s up to the jury whether or not they believe the accused or the accuser, and if that accuser is a child, you’re going to prison even before you enter the court room, because all the prosecutor has to establish is that the accused had opportunity and the “victim” said so. That’s how I got hooked up in this. Many take plead bargains, because if you don’t, the prosecutor promises you a very long sentence (15 years first offense) and the parole board, as already mentioned, denies parole, so you serve the whole time. There is no good time in Michigan’s prison system. King John I of Engler abolished that as well. So, although this is a major victory for us here with the Supreme Court upholding the ruling from the 6th Circuit, we’re not out of the woods with a draconian lock-them-up-and-throw-away-the-key mentality of a Legislature that will do anything it can to restore this law as it was. Our fight isn’t over.