STOP SEX OFFENDERS | MI: Top prosecutors plan appeal after sex offender registry unplugged.
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MI: Top prosecutors plan appeal after sex offender registry unplugged.

June 6, 2002

Defense attorneys hailed the shutdown of the state's Internet sex offender registry Tuesday, hoping the move would give greater discretion to judges as to who should be labeled a sexual predator.

Meanwhile, attorneys in the state's Attorney General's Office planned a quick appeal, as others criticized the community risk brought on by the site's deactivation.

"I'm real disappointed about that ruling," said Eric Smith, a Macomb County assistant prosecutor in the county's "sex crimes" unit.

"If nothing else, (a registry) gives parents a sense of security that they might know who is in their neighborhood to be concerned about. Now parents will have to be all the more concerned."

The closure of the online registry at 8:28 a.m. Tuesday followed a Monday ruling by U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts that the sex offender law is unconstitutional. In her ruling, Roberts said the law lacks a way for people to challenge the government claim they are a danger to society, violating the 14th Amendment right to due process.

Michigan established the registry in 1994, which makes public the names and addresses of convicted sex offenders. In 1999, the state put it on the Internet.

Under the law, convicted offenders had to be placed on the registry for 25 years.

But the required publication of offenders on the list was not without criticism, largely because it made information on all offenders -- from hard-core rapists, to those who engaged in an unwanted touching, public.

Moreover, the law was equally harsh on minor offenders who engaged in sexual encounters with other minors. Because minors can not legally consent to sex, it was not unheard of for a teen, who had sex with a similarly-aged teen, to be placed on the registry upon conviction of a sex crime.

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Source: 2002 The Macomb Daily