For those in Michigan, don't get too excited, you can bet this will be undone. Otherwise all offenders in the state would just declare themselves homeless. This is why the state needs to stop passing "one size fits all" laws, and give the power back to the judge to decide!
By John S. Hausman
The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that homeless sex criminals don’t have to comply with Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry Act.
Many law enforcement officials — who often have to deal with sex offenders who claim they have no permanent residence — aren’t happy with the ruling.
In a published opinion released Tuesday that sets a statewide precedent, a three-judge panel unanimously upheld a trial court’s dismissal of charges against a homeless Ingham County man for failing to register, failing to comply with reporting duties and failing to pay registration fees.
The appeals judges ruled that it’s impossible for a homeless person to comply with the law, which requires convicted sex criminals to report their “domicile or residence” to police. The judges concluded that a homeless sex offender, by definition, has neither.
The judges’ opinion bluntly urges state lawmakers to fix the law. “The Legislature is free, indeed, empowered, to ... include a provision addressing reporting requirements for the homeless,” said the opinion signed by judges Jane M. Beckering, Jane E. Markey and Stephen L. Borrello.
“The purpose of (the Sex Offender Registry Act) is wise, and the Legislature is urged to consider changes so that a homeless person who does not have a domicile or residence may readily comply with its requirements,” the judges wrote.
The sooner that happens the better, in the opinion of Muskegon County Sheriff Dean Roesler.
“I certainly hope the Legislature takes a good hard look at this ruling and revisits the Sex Offender Registry Act,” Roesler said. “It’s going to be an obstacle to properly investigating the cases of who has failed to register and who has failed to comply with the act.”
“The intent (of the law) was to keep track of persons who have committed the sex offenses that keep them on the sex offender list,” Roesler said. “It kind of defeats the purpose.”
Muskegon-area lawmakers, informed of the ruling Thursday by The Muskegon Chronicle, said they intend to take action.
“They’ve asked us to move forward on this, and we need to do it quickly,” said state Rep. Mary Valentine, D-Norton Shores.
“It sounds like a huge loophole that needs to be fixed,” said state Sen. Gerald Van Woerkom, R-Norton Shores. “I would think that we would have to find a way to register these offenders.”
- If you stop with the draconian residency restrictions, which no study has been done to show it works at preventing anything, then you'd have a lot more homeless people. But that is only common sense, which we have very little of these days.
The court case involves a Lansing defendant named Randall Lee Dowdy. Dowdy, now 61, was convicted in 1984 of five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of kidnapping, according to registry records.
Dowdy was rendered homeless in 2006 after operators of an Ingham County homeless shelter kicked him out after learning of his sex offender status. He then failed to register his address because he had none while he bunked in abandoned buildings and public places.
The Ingham County prosecutor charged Dowdy with a felony and multiple misdemeanors. A circuit-court trial judge dismissed the case. The prosecutor appealed. The case went all the way to the state Supreme Court, which failed to reach a consensus last year and remanded it to the appeals court for a decision.