Michigan’s Sex Offender Act Under Question

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(WLNS) – The most common issue under the sex offender registration act revolves around the school safety zone.

Those on the list have to refrain from being around, working or living within 1,000 feet from school property.

The ACLU argued the law is too difficult to enforce as there aren’t clear markings within zones and happy to see the judge rule in their favor.

“It goes far beyond doing the time for your crime.”

ACLU’s legislative director Shelli Weisberg describes Judge Robert Cleland’s ruling as a chance to look at sex offender registry laws based on research and common sense instead of fear.

“Well the judge looked at body of laws that control sex offenders and realized that they’re confusing, hard to follow, sex offenders don’t know how to follow them,” said Shelli Weisberg, ACLU of Michigan, legislative director.

Take for example those school signs the offenders must stay 1,000 feet away from a school property. But Weisberg says she found a clear problem with that.

“In trying to help registrants follow the law, we called like every prosecutor across the state in the state of Michigan and said how do you measure 1,000 feet exclusionary zone, so what we understood was there was no consistency.”

ACLU staff attorney Miriam Aukerman told 6 News on the phone this ruling will likely make lawmakers revisit the legislation and clearly define where school zone boundaries are at.

“Lots of states have registries based on risk, if someone is determined to be a risk they go on the registry, we don’t have that we throw everybody on the registry,” said Miriam Aukerman, staff attorney, ACLU of Michigan.

Aukerman says Michigan has the fourth largest registry in the country with 40,000 people and hopes this suit will provide discussion to help clarify those offenders most at risk.

“It was a good start to really take a look at this law and figure out if it’s working, which parts are working and which parts aren’t working.”

The attorney general’s office says they’re reviewing the case and have 30 days to make an appeal.

Meanwhile Grand Ledge Senator Rick Jones says he’s working to make sure there is no vagueness in the state’s sex offender registry law.

“This is one judge’s ruling, and the law will soon be changed to clarify it,” said Senator Rick Jones (r), Grand Ledge.

“Child molesters must stay away from our schools. Law enforcement will be watching.”

The bottom line, the ACLU says this is about improving public safety and making sure those offenders and law enforcement know exactly where they can and can’t be to keep those around them safe.

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