REFORMING MICHIGAN’S UNCONSTITUTIONAL SEX OFFENDER REGISTRATION ACT
Jan. 22, 2020
With nearly 44,000 registrants, Michigan has one of the largest sex offender registries in the country. Each year, the state adds almost 2,000 people to the registry, or about 5 people per day. Many of these registrants were added to the list retroactively after the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) was amended in 2006 and 2011.
This retroactive punishment is a direct violation of registrants’ constitutional rights. The oppressive and unconstitutionally vague requirements of SORA have conflated an entire class of people with sexually deviant criminals, ripping apart families and ruining countless lives.
Several victims of SORA, for example, are individuals who pled guilty to charges when they were teenagers or young adults and completed the appropriate legal remedies at the time of conviction. Many of their records were privatized due to their youth, and their inclusion on the sex offender registry was limited. Under Michigan’s retroactive application of SORA amendments, however, their registrations were made public and extended to life.
The Impacts of Registration
In a class-action lawsuit called Does # 1-6 v. Snyder, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals classified the heavily amended SORA as a punishment and decided that retroactive application was unconstitutional. Nevertheless, the state of Michigan, its mayor, and its police continue to use the sex offender registry as they see fit. Additionally, when this decision was made in 2016, a district judge had already stated that the reporting requirements and exclusion zones established in SORA’s 2006 and 2011 amendments were “unconstitutionally vague” and violated the First Amendment.
Under these important rulings, registrants are not supposed to be prosecuted for inadvertent violations of SORA, nor punished retroactively. Still, registrants have been added to the list due to previously resolved crimes and remain heavily affected by their place on Michigan’s sex offender registry.
The current version of SORA, for instance, limits where registrants can live and work, inappropriately classifies them by tier, and in some cases requires immediate reporting of vast amounts of personal information.
Many improperly registered individuals live in fear of violating exclusion zones, which require registrants to keep a distance of 1,000 feet from schools but does not specify how those 1,000 feet are measured. To demonstrate: some SORA “violations” claim registrants could harm children, even if the person in question was separated from the school in question by a raging river or busy, untraversable freeway.
As a result, victims of SORA have been unable to find housing, accept or maintain jobs, or enjoy meaningful personal relationships without fear of violating the law and turning their lives upside-down.
How Our Firm Is Helping
Many people on Michigan’s sex offender registry are listed by unconstitutional means and subjected to a life of constant regulation and restriction. In public and private, they also face severe damage to their reputations and livelihood.
To combat this injustice, our firm has filed a new class-action lawsuit against the governor of the state and the director of the Michigan State Police in their official capacities. We are the only private law firm in Michigan appointed class counsel with the ACLU and the University of Michigan Clinical Law Program in this historic case. We hope the work of Alyson Oliver and the skills and resources of Oliver Law Group P.C. will result in the reform of SORA and remedial actions for those affected by the unjust legislation.
If you are facing improper inclusion on the sex offender registry or the types of charges that could put you there, look no further than Oliver Law Group. We would be honored by the opportunity to apply our expertise and experience in this area as no other firms can, and to do so on your behalf.
Call us today to request a free consultation and start getting your life back.