sex offender

Politics & Government
3:15 pm
Sun March 24, 2013

Michigan's sex offenders could face annual fees

Credit Flickr user borman818

A bill to require the more than 40,000 people on Michigan's sex offender registry to pay an annual fee is igniting a debate over who should bear the costs for operating the system that tracks offenders.

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Politics & Government
7:48 am
Wed March 13, 2013

In this morning's news: Detroit City Council appeal, sex offender registry, drug tests for welfare

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Detroit Mayor Bing says appeal unlikely to halt an EM

"Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says the City Council's appeal of Gov. Rick Snyder's determination that there's no plan to solve Detroit's financial emergency is unlikely to halt an emergency manager's appointment. Bing says he endorses the council's assertions that a viable restructuring plan is in place, and he released a progress report on the plan Tuesday," the Associated Press reports.

Governor Snyder signs bill to add more people to sex offender registry

"More people will be added to Michigan's public sex offender registry under a bill signed by Gov. Rick Snyder.  The bill signed Tuesday will require people convicted of a single Tier I offense for some crimes involving minors to be placed on the online registry. Offenses that qualify include possessing child pornography and surveillance of a minor," the Associated Press reports.

Bill would require welfare recipients to pass drug tests

"Michigan lawmakers are planning to consider a bill that would require welfare applicants and recipients to pass drug tests. [The] legislation being considered . . .  would establish a program of suspicion-based substance abuse screening and testing for Family Independence Program applicants and recipients who are at least 18 years old," the Associated Press reports.

Politics & Government
1:13 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Making sex between school employees and students illegal

School hallway.
Christopher Webb Flickr

Some representatives in Lansing hope to classify sex between school employees and students, even if the student is 18 or older, as a criminal act.

The Michigan Senate passed SB 135 would make sex between school employees and students  a felony - "criminal sexual conduct in the third degree." It would be "punishable by imprisonment for not more than 15 years."

Sex with a minor is already illegal, but this bill would prohibit sex between school employees and students ages 18 and up to 21 years old, and up to 26 years old if the student is receiving special education services.

More from the Associated Press:

The bill's sponsor Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge says the bill is intended to "to safeguard students." He says there have been alleged instances in Michigan of teachers having sexual relations with students after they reached the age of 18.

The bill will now be sent to the House for consideration.

A similar bill was passed last year, but it stalled after passing the Senate. That bill had no age cap.

Politics & Government
7:15 am
Wed February 20, 2013

In this morning's news: Detroit's financial review, sex offender bill and medical marijuana

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Detroit closer to a state takeover

"A state takeover of Detroit has edged closer to reality, as a financial review team formally determined the city is in a fiscal crisis with no workable plan to dig out of it. State Treasurer Andy Dillon led the review. He says a 10-month-old consent agreement between the state and the city is not working," Rick Pluta reports.

State House approves bill to add more people to sex offender registry

"People convicted of crimes such as possessing child pornography and indecent exposure might soon be added to the state’s public sex offender registry. Lawmakers in the state House yesterday voted overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation," Jake Neher reports.

Bill would legalize medical marijuana distribution centers

A bill was introduced in the state House to legalize medical marijuana distribution centers in the State. This comes after the state Supreme Court recently ruled that the dispensaries violate the medical marijuana law and are illegal. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

House Bill 4271 -- titled the Medical Marijuana Provisioning Center Regulation Act -- would let communities decide whether to allow such centers and where they could be located.

Law
4:58 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

State House approves bill to add more people to sex offender registry

Michigan State Police

People convicted of crimes such as possessing child pornography and indecent exposure might soon be added to the state’s public sex offender registry.

Lawmakers in the state House today voted overwhelmingly in favor of the legislation.

Democratic state Representative Jeff Irwin was one of only three votes against it. He admits it’s not a popular position to take.

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Politics & Government
3:04 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

House passes sex offender registry expansion

The form used to access the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry
Michigan State Police

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - More Michigan residents may soon be added to the state's online public sex offender registry.

The full House passed a bill Tuesday that would require people convicted of a single Tier I offense for some crimes involving minors to be placed on the online sex offender registry.

Offenses that would qualify would include unlawful imprisonment if the victim is a minor and knowingly possessing sexually abusive material of a child.

The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Rick Jones of Grand Ledge says the bill will allow the public to "protect their children and grandchildren."

The House Fiscal Agency reports that a few hundred people would be added to the state's public registry. Currently people convicted of Tier II and III offenses are already placed on the registry.

Politics & Government
8:35 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Commentary: Fairness and the sex offender list

Lessenberry commentary for 2/19/13

This weekend I was at a baby naming, normally a joyous Jewish ceremony where even the in-laws get along. But one woman there was close to despair, thanks to a little-known bill about to be passed in Lansing.

Several years ago, her young adult son did a very stupid thing. I don’t know all the details, but he apparently got into looking at illegal child porn on the Internet. He never saw or touched an actual child, but he got caught in a federal sting. He ended up being sentenced to several years in federal prison. He should get out soon, but our lawmakers are about to make his and his innocent parents’ lives more of a nightmare.

As you probably know, for the past few years we’ve had something called the Michigan Public Sex Offender Registry, which lists all the details about someone who has been convicted of a major sex crime, including their current address.

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Detroit
10:11 am
Mon October 8, 2012

Detroit's police chief 'retires'

Mayor: Detroit police chief retires amid allegations of sex scandal involving subordinate.

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing suspended Ralph Godbee following claims the city's police chief was involved in a sexual relationship with a subordinate.

Godbee was suspended last week after a lawyer for internal affairs officer Angelica Robinson revealed the two had been involved in a sexual relationship.

Godbee has not publicly commented on the claims.

Politics
10:26 pm
Mon January 16, 2012

Wyoming City Council adopts zoning limits on where parolees may live

A Grand Rapids suburb has adopted zoning changes (on page 31) that will limit where the state and federal government can house people on parole. The changes will limit the number of parolees who can live in 1 place to 2 people.

Most parolees go home when they’re released from jail. Those who don’t have a safe place to reintegrate into society are housed through reentry programs. People are usually on parole for two years or less. Usually state parolees are housed in the county where they were sentenced.

Police Chief James Carmody says he supports efforts to house and rehabilitate parolees from Wyoming. But he’s concerned too many are being concentrated in a couple of motels in his city. At a meeting last month Carmody said the concentration of dozens of parolees in a couple of motels was “beyond (his) department’s ability to control.” 

Facilities for housing parolees in the future would only be allowed in an industrial area. The two inns would be grandfathered in. The zoning change includes a wide-ranging exemption for family members.

 “As long as they stay out of trouble and they don’t offend, that’s great,” Carmody said. “The problem is the residual effect on my organization is we’ve got to constantly monitor these individuals and keep track of them. So that’s a huge undertaking.”

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Homeless
8:04 am
Fri December 30, 2011

Federal judge allows registered sex offenders in Michigan homeless shelters

(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

 A federal judge’s ruling is opening the doors of Michigan’s homeless shelters to registered sex offenders.  

 Two years ago, a 51 year old homeless man was found frozen to death in Grand Rapids.  He was turned away by a   local homeless shelter because the man was a registered sex offender.   The shelter was less than a thousand feet from a school, which would have been a violation of a Michigan law barring sex offenders from living that close to a school.   

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Religion
6:26 pm
Sun October 30, 2011

Warren priest put on leave after sex abuse report

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit says it has placed a 66-year-old priest on leave after finding "sufficient substance" behind a complaint that he engaged in sexual misconduct with a minor early in his ministry.

The 1.3 million-member archdiocese announced Sunday that the Rev. Gary Schulte went on administrative leave Friday from St. Sylvester Parish in Warren. The Associated Press left a phone message Sunday for Schulte.

The archdiocese says its victim assistance coordinator received a complaint in September. The archdiocese says it "found the complaint to be of sufficient substance" to require restrictions on Schulte's work as a priest, including barring him from celebrating Mass.

Schulte was ordained in 1972 and also has worked at parishes in the Detroit suburbs of Clawson, Beverly Hills, Royal Oak and Madison Heights.

Michigan Court of Appeals update
4:26 pm
Fri October 28, 2011

Michigan court rules on Miranda rights for inmates

Joe Gratz Flickr

The Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled that inmates are not necessarily entitled to Miranda warnings when they’re investigated for alleged law-breaking in prison. Typically, warnings that a suspect has the right to remain silent and have an attorney present have to be given once a person is detained and no longer free to leave.

We have more from Michigan Radio’s Rick Pluta:

“In this case, suspected gang member Burton Cortez was handcuffed and questioned after guards found two metal shanks in his cell during a lockdown search of the state prison in Carson City.

With a recorder running, Cortez acknowledged the blades were his, and admitted he sold a third shank to another inmate. Prison officials say the main purpose of their interrogation was to gain information to help restore order following a string of gang-related fights, and to root out a plot to murder a guard.

That was enough for the trial court – and the Court of Appeals – to deny Cortez’s motion to suppress his confession and the tape. The courts say Miranda warnings are not necessary when prison officials’ top focus is to keep the peace, and not to determine whether a crime has been committed, or who is responsible.”

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Politics
11:16 am
Mon October 24, 2011

Sex Offender Registry: First, Do No Harm

For months, I’ve been corresponding with a lady named Virginia Hernandez, whose twenty-three year old son Elio is on Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry. He was accused of accosting a minor for immoral purposes, and pled guilty on the advice of his court-appointed counsel. His mom believes he is innocent, and was pressured into a plea. She says his attorney told him that he was poor, uneducated, and black, and a jury would never believe him.

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Education
10:23 am
Thu October 13, 2011

Study says online sex offender info may do more harm than good

user rollingroscoe morgueFile

A new study suggests posting the names and addresses of sex offenders online increases the chance the offenders will commit new crimes.

According to the study by the University of Michigan Law School and Columbia Business School, posting sex offenders' information online makes life so difficult for the offenders they may commit new crimes because they no longer consider prison a threat.

U of M law professor J.J. Prescott co-authored the study. He says offenders are likely to re-offend when they have nothing to lose.

“We got to give them something to lose if they’re going to commit another offense. I mean, as it stands right now, they’re already pariahs in their community, they can’t get a job, it’s very difficult for them to live, prison doesn’t sound so bad," Prescott says.

The Sex Offender Registration Act of 1994 requires Michigan State Police to post the names and addresses of sex offenders online.

Allison Lyons

Crime
5:57 pm
Mon July 11, 2011

Michigan Supreme Court says homeless sex offenders must report 'home' address to state

The seal of the Michigan Supreme Court
(photo by Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio)

A Michigan Supreme Court says homeless sex offenders must report their home address to the state even though they don’t actually have homes.  Paroled sex offenders are legally required to provide their home address to the state sex offender registry. But what if they’re homeless?   

Randall Lee Dowdy is a convicted rapist.  He was paroled in 2002. But he was arrested again a few years later after he gave the address of a Lansing non-profit as his ‘home address’. Dowdy was homeless at the time.  

Lower courts ruled Dowdy couldn’t be charged with violating the law since he didn’t have a home address to report. 

But the Michigan Supreme Court says homelessness is no excuse. In a 4 to 3 decision, the high court ruled the lower courts had not taken the ‘intent’ of the law into account, adding homelessness doesn’t prevent sex offenders from complying with the law requiring them to report their ‘home’ address to the state.

The dissenting justices describe the majority’s opinion as defying ‘common sense.’

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State Law
12:06 pm
Tue April 12, 2011

Gov. Snyder signs into law major reform of Michigan's sex offender registry

Teenagers convicted of having an under-aged consensual sexual relationship will no longer risk being placed on the state’s sex offender registry.  Governor Rick Snyder has signed a law reforming Michigan’s sex offender registry.

People convicted of serious sex crimes will still be on the state’s Tier One registry and will have to report their whereabouts at least four times a year. But people convicted of less-serious crimes will not have to register. And many people convicted as teens will be able to ask a judge to remove them from the registry. 

Michigan State Police Sergeant Christopher Hawkins says:

“The sex offender registry was really designed to notify the public of dangerous offenders and sex predators who live in their neighborhoods. When you have offenders who are, say, a 17-year-old who had a consensual sexual contact or a consensual sexual act with their 15-year-old boyfriend or girlfriend – that’s not really a dangerous offender who the public needs to be aware of.”     

Michigan has one of the biggest sex offender registries in the country. About one out of every 200 people in Michigan is a registered sex offender.

There have been complaints since it was enacted in 1995 that the law is too harsh on some young offenders. But it took the threat of losing federal victim compensation funds to force a change in the law.

Police
2:15 pm
Mon October 18, 2010

Michigan State Police are looking for sex offenders

Michigan state police troopers are knocking on the doors of paroled sex offenders this week.

 The state is conducting its annual sweep to see if sex offenders are complying with the law requiring them to report with local law enforcement.

"Currently we’re at a 92 percent compliance rate in the state of Michigan," says State police Sergeant Kevin Mark, "That’s the highest it’s been since we really started cracking down and doing enforcement back in 2007."  

 Mark says the annual sex offender sweep will wrap up by the end of the month.