In 1994, seven-year-old Megan Kanka was raped and murdered by a neighbor in New Jersey. The fact that the neighbor was a twice-convicted sex offender at the time he committed the crime helped spur the creation of a sex-offender registry in the state. In 1996, President Clinton signed “Megan’s Law,” which required each state to create a community-notification system in addition to the sex-offender registry already required by the Jacob Wetterling Act of 1994.
These days, each state has some type of registry and notification system, but they are not all the same. Each state has the discretion to determine which crimes require registration, as well as what information will be made available to the public about each sexual offender.
Summary of Sex Offender Legislation in Michigan
The offenses included in Michigan’s Sex Offenders Registration Act are relatively broad. In fact, a conviction under any of Michigan’s Criminal Sexual Conduct laws, regardless of the level of force/intimidation used in commission of the crime, requires registration. The sex offender will remain on the registry for at least 25 years. Only the duration of registration is affected by the severity or degree of the crime; all offenders must remain on the registry for at least 25 years, but offenders convicted of violent crimes or crimes against children remain on for life.
Registration information is initially collected at the local level, where a $35 registration fee is collected from the sex offender. The information is then compiled by the Michigan State Police and posted online as a searchable registry. Most offenders have to verify their address quarterly with local authorities. Out-of-state offenders (who live or work in the state for 14 days or more) must also register.
Juveniles and the Registry
While juvenile offenders are required to register in Michigan, a 2004 revision to the Registration Act makes an exception for certain offenses and/or convictions under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act.
The Registry: Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry
Unfortunately, Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry was ranked 31st in the nation by TopTenReviews.com. Unlike registries in other states, Michigan’s registry fails to include detailed information about the offender’s crime and/or a community risk assessment. Given that Michigan’s registry includes juvenile offenders (8%) and offenders convicted of any of four degrees of sexual crimes, including consensual but underage sex crimes, the state’s registry contains a large number of individuals. In fact, according to an article posted on The Michigan Messenger, the state ranks third in the nation for the highest number of registered offenders per population.
Michigan’s registry is also criticized for failing to provide an interactive map, work addresses for the offender, and safety/prevention information.
While more information on the offender could be included, the registry is relatively easy to use and has several search criteria. In addition to a search by name and/or zip code, Michigan is one of only a few states that include a proximity search by school.
Offender Information Made Public
The offender information made public as part of Michigan’s registry includes name, aliases, physical characteristics, address, conviction information (with a link to the specific Michigan Penal Code), and a photo. If the offender works or attends classes at a college/university, the name of the school is also included. Michigan’s registry also offers an e-mail alert.
School Safety Zone Law
In 2005, Michigan added Article III to the Michigan Sex Offender Registration Act. It prohibits registered sex offenders from residing, working and/or loitering within 1,000 feet of school property.
According to Klaas Kids Foundation, Michigan’s registry included 44,773 registered sex offenders as of August 4th, 2009. It is estimated that this represents 84% of all convicted sex offenders in Michigan.
Use of Information
The information in the registry is made public so that community residents can take steps toward protecting their children. The Act provides penalties if the information contained in the registry is misused – published, used for harassment.
- Review of Michigan’s Public Sexual Offender Registry
- Definition of degrees of Criminal Sexual Conduct in Michigan / SAPAC / University of Michigan
- Center for Sex Offender Management, a U.S. Department of Justice Project
- Michigan’s Department of Corrections keeps a database of felons convicted in the last three years. The system is called OTIS