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Questions developing about fairness of sex offender registry

In Michigan, there are currently around 43,000 residents on the state online sex offender registry, out of about 800,000 people nationwide on some state registry. Michigan law is especially strict about who must register as a sex offender, with many misdemeanor convictions automatically requiring registry.

Due at least in part to this, Michigan has the fourth-highest population of residents on its sex offender registry of any state. Among the things someone can be put on the registry for is a second conviction for public urination, the Lansing State Journal says. Only three other states register people as sex offenders for this crime.

Sex offender registries are largely popular, and may help authorities keep track of violent sex offenders and child molesters. But some are beginning to question whether public urinaters and people who had consensual sex as teenagers belong on the same list as rapists and pedophiles.

The law could require the person to register for years, or for the rest of his or her life. It may be impossible to get a job or find an apartment. The strain and stigma can tear families apart, affecting people who were not convicted of anything.

Being on the list also requires people to follow a list of rules intended to protect children and other people. But in April, a federal judge in Detroit ruled that Michigan’s sex offender law is unconstitutional, because the rules are so vague that it is impossible to comply. The judge noted that these rules act more as a “trap” to cause confused registrants to get into trouble again, instead of promoting public safety.

There are also questions about whether the registry is needed to prevent people from reoffending. Some experts say that only a small minority of sex offenders are likely to do it again after getting out of prison.

This is a highly controversial topic. We present this post only to point out the consequences a conviction for a sex crime can have in Michigan, even after the accused has served his or her time.

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