In response to our lawsuits, the legislature has passed a new SORA which went into effect on March 24, 2021. The ACLU is deeply concerned about the new law and does not believe it is constitutional. Moreover, the new law has done little to fix Michigan’s bloated and ineffective registry and, in some ways, has made the problem worse. Our latest update has a summary of the changes in the new law, as well as information for registrants who have questions about their obligations under the new law.
The ACLU believes that comprehensive SORA reform is vital and therefore continues to press for legislative changes. Although not perfect, the American Law Institute (ALI) has a model bill that we believe is a good starting point. An ALI model policy, draft legislation, and summary of the ALI’s proposed law can be found below under documents.
SORA has been amended many times since it was first in enacted in 1994. A summary of those changes, in reverse chronological order, is below:
- maintains 3-tier system and does not change the 15-year, 25-year, and lifetime reporting requirements (including the retroactive extension of the registration periods from the 2011 amendments); removes tier information from public website;
- continues to require extensive reporting for a vast amount of information, often within three business days;
- no individualized review nor any path off the registry;
- eliminates “school exclusion zones,” meaning it is no longer a crime to live, work, or “loiter” within 1,000 feet of a school;
- requires any violation of the registry to be “willful” before someone can be convicted;
- allows certain people whose offense is later expunged or set aside, or who successfully complete supervision under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act to be removed from the registry.
- imposed annual fee.
- created federal SORNA-based 3-tier system;
- classified registrants retroactively into tiers based solely on offense;
- tier level determines length of registration and frequency of reporting;
- retroactively extended registration period to life for Tier III registrants;
- offense pre-dating registry results in registration if convicted of any new felony (“recapture” provision);
- in-person reporting for a vast amount of information (like internet identifiers);
- “immediate” reporting for minor changes (like travel plans & email accounts).
- criminalized working within 1,000 feet of a school:
- criminalized living within 1,000 feet of a school;
- criminalized “loitering” within 1,000 feet of a school;
- increased penalties;
- created public email notification system.
- registrants’ photos posted on the internet;
- imposed registry fee, and made it a crime not to pay the fee.
- added new in-person reporting for higher educational settings.
- created internet-accessible registry;
- required quarterly or annual in-person registration;
- required fingerprinting and photographs;
- increased penalties for SORA violations;
- expanded categories of people required to register.
1994 SORA first enacted:
- confidential, non-public, law enforcement database;
- no regular reporting requirements;
- revealing registry information is a crime & a tort (treble damages);
- 25 year inclusion in database, except repeat offenders;
- allowed limited public inspection of registry information.