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.
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 2015, the district court found various parts of the law unconstitutional. In 2016, The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals declared that other 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 Sixth Circuit 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, which denied review.
The Does v. Snyder case (Does I) was filed for six individual people. The State of Michigan did not follow the Sixth Circuit’s or district court’s rulings in Does I for the 44,000 other Michigan registrants. So in 2018, the ACLU, the Michigan Clinical Law Program and the Oliver Law Group filed a new class action law suit to ensure that the Does decision is applied to all Michigan registrants.
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.