Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Juveniles Crowd Mich. Sex Offender Registry Juveniles crowd Mich. sex offender registry - More than 3,500 teen and pre-teen sex offenders on state list.

Nearly eight percent (8%) of Michigan’s sex offender population is made up of juveniles, according to statistics compiled by the Michigan State Police in response to a public records request from the Michigan Messenger. The statistics further reveal that the state’s youngest registered sex offenders are 9 years old. The state counts a total of 3,563 juvenile sex offenders on the registry, all of whom were adjudicated through the state’s juvenile court system.

All sex offenders in Michigan -– juveniles and adults alike -– face a minimum of 25 years on the state registry, along with requirements to check-in regularly with law enforcement and other restrictions. The maximum registration requirement is life.

While there are relatively few 9-12 year olds on the registry (145 cases adjudicated) there are many more registered teenage sex offenders age 13-17 (2,361 cases). See the complete breakdown by age here.

“It’s shocking,” said Shelli Weisberg, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, referring to the juvenile sex offender statistics. “I’m pretty surprised at the numbers. They’re bigger than I thought they would be.”

As of November, 45,164 Michigan residents were registered sex offenders, giving the state the distinction of having the second highest ratio of sex offenders of any state in the country. According to the state’s Sex Offender Registry Act, all violations of the state’s Criminal Sexual Conduct (CSC) laws -– not just rape or child molestation -– require the perpetrator to be on the sex offender list.

Most of the juvenile sex offenders are likely only listed on the private or “law enforcement-only” registry -– not the public online registry -– but they are still subject to the quarterly registration requirements. Further penalties loom if the registrant fails to check-in on time with law enforcement (arrest and imprisonment).

Under the provisions of the federal Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act that Michigan must comply with later this year, the state may have to do away with the private registry all together -– which could force most juvenile sex offenders onto the online registry for the duration of their registration requirements. “Under Adam Walsh, all those kids over 14 would be on the public registry,” said Weisberg. “Every single one of them.”

Moreover, critics of the state registry often point to the employment- and housing-denying stigma that accompanies extended punishment on the public registry long after consensual but underage sex, or other non-violent sex crimes, has triggered an offense.