The sex offender registry soon could be a thing of the past. The latest calmly reasoned step has been taken by the American Civil Liberties Union in Michigan, which points out that the registry doesn’t work. Right now, there are two cases out of Michigan, including a class-action lawsuit, saying several parts of the registry are unconstitutional.
“In August 2016, the federal Court of Appeals held that Michigan’s registry is unconstitutional,” Attorney for the ACLU in Michigan, Miriam Aukerman, said.
Aukerman represents hundreds of registered citizens fighting the public registry and some of the sex offender restrictions imposed by the state. That suit is in response to the state of Michigan not coming into compliance with the Court of Appeals decision.
“Basically what the Court of Appeals said is that the registry is so ineffective, so broken, that it violates the Constitution. What we know, through research, is that registries don’t work. They don’t keep people safe.”
The Michigan registry was initially created in 1994 as a database for law enforcement. Since then, there have been major changes. In 1999, the registry was posted on the internet. In 2004, pictures were added. In 2006, living and working restrictions were imposed, keeping offenders at least 100 feet from schools. In 2011, a tier system was implemented, which determines how long an offender is on the list, retroactively extending registration for some offenders, for life, in some cases.
The history in Nebraska is similar. In 2010, Nebraska bloated its public registry, exposing thousands of people to state-sanctioned hatred. In many cases, the effect of the changes in Nebraska was to impose lifetime registry status on people who had been given 10-year registrations when they were originally sentenced.
It is time for the abolish-the-registry movement to gain traction in Nebraska.