Eye on Lansing: Snyder signs sex offender registry bills Teen offenders will not needlessly be added to list

By Kathy Barks Hoffman

Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- Many teenagers convicted of having consensual sex with minors no longer would be listed on Michigan's sex offender registry under legislation signed Tuesday by Gov. Rick Snyder.

Under the measures, youthful offenders no longer will be listed for having consensual sex with partners who were between the ages of 13 and 16, provided the offender was not more than four years older than the victim. Young offenders currently on the registry can petition to have their names removed. A court will determine whether the sex was consensual.

The most dangerous sex offenders now will be added to the registry for life and still be required to report to the police four times a year.

Michigan risked losing a portion of its federal law enforcement funds if it didn't make the changes. The funds cover everything from drug enforcement to programs that help crime victims.

Snyder signed the bills in his ceremonial office at the Capitol. He said it was important to make sure Michigan gets its full share of federal support for local law enforcement activities and to focus the registry on true sex offenders.

"These changes make sure the registry is used to better identify and protect the public from dangerous predators," he said.

Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, was one of the legislation's sponsors. He noted he has tried for six years to take many young offenders caught up in "Romeo and Juliet" offenses off the registry since they aren't a threat to the public.

While it's still illegal to have sex with someone under 17 years old, Jones said the state no longer will needlessly disrupt young offenders' lives by placing them on the sex offender registry.

"If you're on that list as a young man, you can't . . . get a good job," he said. "In many cases, they get later married and have children and can't even go to school to see their children."

He added that "narrowing the list will make it tougher on the child predators" who are on the registry to go unnoticed.

Fewer than 2,000 of the 45,000 people on the sex offender registry are youthful offenders who may be able to get their names removed under the new law, state police said. The changes take effect July 1.

To comply with federal law, offenders still on the registry now will have to provide their Social Security numbers, passport details, email addresses, and information on their vehicles and employers. The changes are intended to make it easier for law enforcement officials to track offenders.

Published: Wed, Apr 13, 2011