We have challenged Michigan’s Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA) for almost a decade. In response to repeated rulings that an old version of the law was unconstitutional, the state passed a new SORA, which went into effect on March 24, 2021. We believe that this new law, which is very similar to the old law, has done little to fix the constitutional problems with Michigan’s registry.
On February 2, 2022, we filed Does v. Whitmer (Does III), No. 22-cv-10209 (E.D. Mich.), challenging the new SORA as unconstitutional. Specifically, SORA fails to provide for individual review or an opportunity for removal, forcing tens of thousands of people, including people who didn’t even commit a sex offense, to be branded as sex offenders and subjected to extensive, and in most cases life-long restrictions, without any consideration of their individual circumstances, which is a violation of their due process and equal protection rights. The complaint also challenges SORA as imposing unconstitutional retroactive punishment, including by retroactively extending the registration terms of thousands of people to life.
We have asked the Court to make this case a class action on behalf of all Michigan registrants and asked that certain parts of the law be put on hold at the outset. Expert reports filed with the case explain that Michigan’s registry is counter-productive: because registration makes it more difficult for people to find housing, employment and family support—the key factors in preventing recidivism—the registry makes the public less safe.
You can find the documents associated with the case below.