In a case brought by the Ameican Civil Liberties Union on behalf of sex offenders, Michigan federal court struck down four parts of Michigan's sex offender registration laws.
The 1,000 foot exclusion zone around schools was found to be so vague as to be unenforceable. That is good news for kids who want their registered parents to attend school events with them, instead of standing out as the kids whose dad is not allowed.
Other portions of the law ruled unconstitutional were: a requirement to report in person to the "registering authority" when an offender begins to drive a vehicle regularly or begins to use a new e-mail or instant messaging address; a requirement for an offender to report all telephone numbers routinely used by an offender; a requirement to report all e-mail and instant messaging addresses; a requirement to report the license plate number, registration number and description of any motor vehicle, aircraft or vessel used by an offender.Think of your own daily life and how easily you create new online profiles. Imagine having to trudge down to the local law enforcement office to report that you set up a new email account. Imagine having to add your son's car to your registry information just because he lives at home and his car could possibly be used by you.
Cleland also called the language defining loitering in the law "sufficiently vague" that it does not allow for common sense to be used to determine if an action is loitering.Ah, common sense. That feels like fresh air, doesn't it?
The ruling drew an immediate reaction from State Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge.Senator Jones, striking while the iron is hot, not waiting for attention to drift away from what could be a hot-button issue if only he can make enough fuss, had an immediate reaction. There's at least one in every crowd of senators.
In a statement released Tuesday morning, Jones, a former sheriff, said he plans to help rewrite the law to make up for the judge's ruling.A former sheriff understands that enforcing sex offender laws can plump up numbers of law enforcement officers while not increasing danger to law enforcement officers.
"I warn sex offenders to stay away from schools. This is one judge's ruling, and the law will soon be changed to clarify it," said Jones, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I'm working to make sure there is no vagueness in Michigan's Sex Offender Registry law. Child molesters must stay away from our schools. Law enforcement will be watching."No vagueness. Well, yes. That darned vagueness is what got the 1,000 foot exclusionary zone thrown out. So let's not be vague.
Senator Jones is probably hard at work writing a law preventing sex offenders from hanging around schools...but to avoid vagueness, his law will apply only to sex offenders most likely to commit another crime on school property, right?
Former teachers who committed crimes against students, for example, would not be allowed to be in the schools.
Wait. Teachers who are caught committing sex crimes in schools were in the schools when they were committing crimes. They weren't loitering outside the school. They weren't living up to 1,000 feet away from the school. They were trusted by school administration and parents alike to be with students.
And that's how most child molestation happens: Someone trusted to be with children takes advantage of the relationship, crosses the line and commits a crime.
Strangers aren't the problem. People who are trusted to be with kids have the most immediate opportunity to cross that line.
Because it protects against the most unlikely situation, that of a stranger molesting a child, the sex offender registry is ineffective if the intent is to prevent child molestation.
On the other hand, if the sex offender registry is intended only to torment those who have served their sentences after a certain kind of conviction...
Well, then. That sounds like another opportunity for the ACLU, doesn't it?