By Liz Shepard
Michigan residents have access to the names, addresses and offenses of convicted sex offenders at their fingertips.
You can search within a mile of your house for them. You can search an entire ZIP code. Smart phone apps will show you a map of sex offenders, your location marked with a green dot, surrounded by menacing looking red dots marking the addresses on the registry.
Michigan required sex offenders to register in the state in 1994 to meet a federal mandate. Legislation sponsored by Michael Bouchard, now Oakland County’s sheriff, made the registry public in 1996.
“I wrote the law because of the high recidivism rate of sex offenders,” Bouchard said in an email. “The average pedophile has over 100 victims in their so-called career. For those reasons alone, the public should have easy access to what is already public record."
- And that is the problem, people continue to ignore the fact that study after study shows that ex-sex offenders have a very low recidivism rate, but politicians continue to ignore those facts because they don't help their career. The registry does nothing to "prevent" crime or "protect" anybody, it's a false sense of security. Even the Department of Justice says recidivism is low.
- This is why police or other uninformed people should not be making laws, especially police, who are biased in the first place and think most people who are in jail or have been accused of a crime, are criminals who will continue to repeat their "crimes!" They think everyone is a criminal! Maybe we should have a POLICE BRUTALITY registry so all these egomaniacs can have their own personal online registry? Then see how much they like it when their names, addresses, photos are put online.
There are 519 sex offenders registered in St. Clair County and 138 in Sanilac County.
While many say the registry is a useful tool, others argue it might not be the right approach.
JJ Prescott, a law professor at the University of Michigan, researched the topic of private versus public directories for a paper published in 2011.
Prescott said he found public registries are a deterrent to potential first-time offenders — but once an offender is on the list, it does little or nothing to keep him or her from committing new crimes.
“They can’t find jobs, can’t build families, can’t live near friends and family, they are pariahs,” Prescott said. “What is the threat? What do you threaten someone with who is in prison on their own dime?”
Francie Giordano, founder of Michigan Citizens for Justice, said her son was on the registry for just a few months and it was like living a nightmare.