Changes to states sex registry approved, sent to governor

LANSING — Legislation to bring Michigan into compliance with the national Adam Walsh Child Safety and Protection Act is one step closer to becoming law, said sponsors Sens. Rick Jones and Phil Pavlov.

“I’m very excited to have these vital proposals approved way ahead of the July 1 deadline,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. “Having these new laws in place will prevent the state from losing $1.2 million in federal funding for our law enforcement agencies. I look forward to the governor signing these measures into law.”

Senate Bills 188, 189 and 206 create a three-tiered system to differentiate between levels of offenders. The new tiered system will more adequately inform concerned residents which individuals in their community are a real threat.

Under the proposed laws, offenders convicted of tier three offenses, the most serious, would have to report four times a year and remain on the registry for life. Michigan’s current system groups all offenders together on the same list.

The measures also include a change for so-called “Romeo and Juliet” offenses that was not required by federal law.

As an example, Jones said a 17-year-old boy consensually involved with a 15-year-old girl would no longer be placed on the registry, and those who were can appeal to a judge to have their name removed.

“This very important legislation dramatically improves Michigan’s sex offender registry and public website,” said Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. “These measures establish a new tier system that groups offenders based on the severity of their offense. It allows dangerous individuals to be identified in their communities, while giving law enforcement the tools to track them.”

According to Jones and Pavlov, work on the legislation was a collaborative effort between many groups, notably the Michigan State Police and Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan.

SB 188, 189 and 206 have been approved by both chambers of the Legislature and now await the governor’s signature.