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Large portions of Michigan Sex Offender Registration Act will soon become unenforceable

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Portions of Michigan’s sex offender registry have been found unconstitutional and will soon become unenforceable.

A federal court ruled last Friday that exclusion zones for sex offenders around schools were unconsitutaionally vague. Other portions of the Act, including a requirement to report phone numbers, were found to be in violation of the first amendment.

Portions of the Sex Offender Registration Act were previously found unconsitutional - with the expectation that the legislature would make an effort to overhaul the law.

In his decision, Judge Robert Cleland wrote that “for several years registrants have been forced to comply with unconstitutional provisions of SORA.” Judge Cleland noted that he anticipates that the ruling will “reignite efforts to finalize a new, unified registration statute that can survive constitutional review.”

Miriam Aukerman is with the ACLU of Michigan, one of the parties which brought the suit. She said the legislature has repeatedly failed to act.

“Lawmakers must finally do their jobs and pass evidence based laws that better serve everyone.”

Aukerman said in his decision Judge Cleland gave the legislature time to bring the law in line with the constitution.

“He said if they don’t rewrite the law they can no longer continue to enforce this unconstitutional law against the tens of thousands of people who are on the registry.”

The legislature has roughly 60 days after the judgement is entered before the ruling takes effect.

If the legislature fails to act, portions of the law will become unenforceable. For any person added to the registry before April 12, 2011 the entirety of the act will be unenforceable.

A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey said he will be looking at what changes can be made “to ensure the law is constitutional and ensures public safety.”