The Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan ruled part of the Michigan Sex Offender Registry Act invalid on Friday.
Judge Robert Cleland struck down provisions of the Sex Offender Registry Act due to vagueness, strict liability and violations of the First Amendment. The provisions that were struck down for vagueness included sections of the law that prohibited registered sex offenders from working within a student safety zone, prohibited registered sex offenders loitering in student safety zones, and required registered sex offenders to report all phone numbers that they routinely use to law enforcement officials. In addition, the provisions of the Act that made sex offenses strict liability crimes was struck down due to violating constitutional due process requirements. Lastly, the provisions requiring sex offenders to report all telephone numbers, electronic mail addresses and instant message addresses was struck down for violating the First Amendment’s free speech rights.
Under the decision, offenders will continue to report their status to local law enforcement or state police through mid-May, while the orders of Judge Cleland’s rulings are drafted. Unless the state legislature acts, after mid-May, the Sex Offender Registry Act will no longer be enforceable against individuals who were deemed sex offenders before 2011.
In a statement made by Miram Aukerman, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan, she indicated that, “ today’s decision is a win for the public safety of Michigan communities. The registry is an ineffective and bloated system that makes Michigan communities less safe by making it more difficult for survivors to report abuse, sabotaging people’s efforts to reenter society, and wasting scare police resources on hyper-technicalities. Today’s decision means that lawmakers must finally do their jobs and pass evidence based laws that better serve everyone.”