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What You Need to Know About the Sex Offender Registry Act (SORA)

August 26, 2016

In 2006 and 2011, the state legislature expanded the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA), originally passed in 1994, creating harsher measures for registrants. The amendments retroactively made most registrants register for life and imposed geographic exclusion zones barring them from living, working, or spending time with their children in large areas of every city and town. Additionally, the legislature added extensive and onerous new in-person reporting requirements that make it a crime for registrants to borrow a car, travel for a week, or get a new email account without immediately notifying the police. The changes were imposed without due process or a mechanism for review or appeal for the vast majority of registrants. 

Read the History and Basic Facts About Michigan's Registry.

In expanding the law, legislators crafted harsher measures that imposed geographic exclusion zones barring registrants from living, working or spending time with their children in much of the state; imposed extensive reporting requirements; and automatically extended registration to life without due process and without a mechanism for review or appeal for the vast majority of registrants.

Michigan has nearly 44,000 registrants, making it the fourth largest sex offender registry in the country, with the third highest registration rate per capita of any state. Michigan adds about 2,000 people to the registry each year, or about 5 a day. 

The ACLU of Michigan and the University of Michigan Clinical Law Program brought a case in 2012. In 2016, The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals declared that portions of the law are unconstitutional and held that restrictions added to the law cannot be applied to people convicted before the changes went into effect. Noting the lack of evidence that registries actually do anything to protect the public, the Court held that Michigan cannot cast people out as “moral lepers” solely on the basis of a past offense without any determination that they actually present a risk to the community.  The state appealed that ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Read Frequently Asked Questions About the ACLU of Michigan and the University of Michigan Clinical Law Program's Case.

The ACLU of Michigan has set up this page to provide registrants with information about the 2016 ruling and to answer questions pertaining to the impact of the decision on their lives and liberty

 

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