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Michigan Legislature votes to expand public sex offender registry

The Michigan State Legislature has voted to have the personal information of more people convicted of sex offenses broadcast to the public. The House approved a Senate bill on Feb. 19 after making minor changes, so it the bill was scheduled to undergo a second vote in the Senate before it could go to the governor for his consideration. If enacted, the bill would have people with a conviction for unlawful imprisonment of a minor or knowing possession of child sexually abusive material put on a list with their names and addresses available for viewing by the public.

The state of Michigan has a public registry which people convicted of certain sex crimes are required to be included on. The registry publishes their names, home addresses and their jobs. Officials say the list prevents crimes against children. The new legislation would put people convicted of a Tier I crime, the lowest level, in the same list as people with Tier II and Tier III offenses such as sexual assault and inappropriate touching of children. It does not appear that the registry would distinguish between the level of crime those listed were convicted of.

Just how many people in Michigan would now have register for the list is unclear. The House Fiscal Agency claims that it would affect a few hundred people, but the State Police say they are unsure that number is accurate.

Critics say the bill paints too many people with the same brush, even those whose crimes did not truly exploit children, damaging their reputation in the process. One county prosecutor worries that people convicted of indecent exposure while with their girlfriend or boyfriend as a teenager could end up on the registry just as if he or she had been convicted of child molestation.

Source: Lansing State Journal, "Sex offender registry expansion approved by House," Feb. 19, 2013

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