Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel filed an Amicus Brief on Jan 30 in People vs. Betts, Supreme Court No. 148981 .
Introduction: There are dangerous sexual predators, to be sure, and the public needs to be protected from them. But the current SORA it is not the way to achieve that goal because it places people on the registry without an individualized assessment of their risk to public safety. Indeed, it provides little differentiation between a violent rapist or reoffender and an individual who has committed a single, non-aggravated offense. And it provides no way for most registrants to lessen their registration period based on their circumstances and rehabilitation. Taken as a whole, SORA’s onerous requirements are punishment and their retroactive application violates both federal and state Ex Post Facto Clauses.
Conclusion: Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry Act, taken as a whole, imposes burdens that are so punitive in their effect that they negate the State’s public safety justifications. Accordingly, Amicus Curiae Attorney General Dana Nessel asks this Court to hold that SORA is punishment and its retroactive application violates the Ex Post Facto Clauses of the Michigan and United States constitutions. The unconstitutional 2011 amendments cannot be severed without leaving an Act that is inoperable without remedial efforts that are quintessentially legislative. Protecting the children and families of Michigan from sexual offending is critical, but it is the Legislature’s task to determine how best to do so within constitutional constraints.