Welcome back and thank you for joining us against for this discussion on “Wyatt’s Law” – the pending child abuser registry currently being considered by the Michigan legislature. In our previous article we talked about some of the consequences that sex offenders live with as a result of the state’s sex offender registry, and compared these to life after release for convicted child abusers. Moving on, we’re going to look at the cost to the state, and discuss whether or not this is a good use of resources.
In the same way that Michigan’s sex offender registry allows anyone, anywhere, to access a list of every single person convicted of a sex crime in Michigan, so the child abuser registry would make similar information accessible to the public. Managed by the Michigan State Police, the registry would provide up-to-date-information about every person with a child abuse or neglect related conviction.
Information in the registry, according to the bills, would include a photo of each registrant, along with their name, birthdate, and a description of their prior convictions. It would also include their current address. Each person on the registry would be required to pay $50 annuals towards maintenance fees, and must notify the MSP every time they move to a new address. Unlike the sex offender registry, there are no distance limitations that limit where registrants can live in proximity to schools.
The package, which contains three bills, was sponsored by State Representatives Sarah Roberts, Derek Miller, and Vanessa Guerra. Should the bill package be signed into law, First, Second and Third Degree offenders would be required to register for 10 years, while Fourth Degree offenders would register for five years. But while many have supported this legislation, it isn’t without its detractors.
Shelli Weisberg, legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, says that the organization is firmly opposed to both the current sex offender registry, and the idea of the child abuse registry. The idea behind Wyatt’s Law is well-meaning, she explains, but the reality is that the registry would do nothing to reduce future instances of child abuse. Why, you ask? Because hard, cold facts say so. The sex offender registry, Weisberg points out, “…has not affected any changes in sexual criminal behavior. We haven’t seen the crimes drop.”
Weisberg claims that the $1.2 million that the state of Michigan spends annually on maintaining and updating the sex offender website “could be put to much better use at intervention and prevention.” The result she believes, would be the same with the child abuser registry – an enormous expense for the state that results in zero reductions in crime. All in all, a tragic misuse of resources.
Weisberg agrees that we should do everything possible to protect the children of Michigan, but the child abuser registry, she believes, will only offer parents and caregivers “a false safety net.” So is it a good idea? Should the state spend millions of dollars annually on the database, and will it reduce instances of child abuse in Michigan? In truth, we don’t know. Only time will reveal whether or not this is a wise investment of state resources, or a colossal waste of money and time.
Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of abusing or neglecting a child, we are here to help. The highly skilled and experienced attorneys at The Kronzek Firm have spent decades defending Michigan’s parents and caregivers against false allegations and unnecessary government interference. Call us at 866 766 5245. We are available 24/7, to protect your rights and help you work through your crisis.