Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Homelessness is no excuse
for sex offenders not registering, court says

Convicted sex offenders cannot use homelessness as an excuse for not reporting their whereabouts to police, a divided Michigan Supreme Court has ruled.

Homelessness "in no way prevents (an) offender from physically entering a law enforcement agency and truthfully reporting ... information regarding the offender's residence," the court found. Its four Republican members signed the majority opinion.

The three Democratic justices dissented, saying the majority's opinion "defies" common sense.

A park bench, highway underpass or steam grate may qualify as a place where a homeless individual sleeps, but they hardly qualify as a 'regular place of lodging' under the statute," Justice Marilyn Kelly wrote for the minority.

Randall Dowdy, who served 18 years in prison for kidnapping and rape, was charged in 2006 with failing to report his whereabouts after he was told he could no longer go to a Lansing shelter because he was a convicted sex offender. While living on the streets, he was charged with violating the Sex Offender Registration Act for not telling police where he was living.

Read the Detroit Free Press report here.


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