By Tim Martin
LANSING – A bill that would lead to more sex offenders being listed on Michigan’s public online registry continues to advance in the Legislature.
The Michigan House, by a 106-3 vote, approved a bill Tuesday that would lead to more offenders being listed in the public domain. The Senate unanimously approved the bill earlier this year. If the Senate concurs as expected with changes made by the House, the bill would then head to Gov. Rick Snyder for his consideration.
The legislation would expand the state’s public online registry to include some additional crimes that involved minors – crimes now listed on the portion of the sex offender registry available only to police. The offenses covered include some so-called “Tier I” crimes -- those that involve offenders convicted of a single crime involving minors.
Specific offenses that would be added to the website include knowingly possessing child pornography, indecent exposure when the victim is a minor, and surveillance of a minor who is undressed or wearing only undergarments in a situation where he or she has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
The bill’s sponsor – Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge – says the Michigan State Police provided examples of offenders who aren’t now listed on the registry but would be under his legislation. One is a woman convicted of allowing her boyfriend to sexually assault and photograph her six-year-old sister. Another is a man who pulled an 8-year-old girl off her bicycle, forced her into his house and began fondling her.
Jones said restoring those types of offenses to the public registry is a public safety issue.
“We actually had criminals that had done acts involving children that weren’t on the list,” Jones said. “This is a pretty serious situation.”
- So what about abusive parents, day care workers or any other crime that involves harming children? Why is it just sexual crimes?
The House Fiscal Agency says the change likely would add "a few hundred people" to the listings on the public website.
Michigan lawmakers most recently overhauled the state’s sex offender registry law in 2011. Those changes were aimed at coming into compliance with the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which required the state to separate sex offenders into three tiers and mandated specific reporting requirements for each.
Under current law, the Michigan State Police must post online registry data for all Tier II and Tier III offenders – such as those convicted of crimes such as rape or creation of child pornography. But the “Tier I” offenders generally are listed in a database accessible only to police, not to the public.