Lawsuit threatens to end the Michigan Sex Offender Registry

An ongoing lawsuit is underway to stop the Michigan Sex Offender Registry.

For years Michigan has had one of the longest a list of sex offenders - and it is all there for public consumption. 

"You commit that sort of crime, it should be known," said Kate Churchill, a mom. "Others should be aware of it."

Their names and their crimes are made available through a simple computer search via the Michigan State Police. 
"The punishment should fit the crime and I think our state is doing that," said Jessica Woll, attorney.

Woll routinely uses the Sex Offender Registry in her professional life, but it doesn't stop there. 

"Being a parent of a teenage daughter, it is a good tool used appropriately," she said.

But some would argue the way Michigan's registry is set up is too strict and unconstitutional because it put people on the list who were convicted before the registry went into effect. It is a matter currently being debated in the state and federal courts. 

"We shouldn't have lifetime registration because we know that it doesn't work," said Miriam Auckerman, ACLU.

Speaking to FOX 2 via Skype, Auckerman is an attorney for the Americans Civil Liberties Union. They say the system needs reform or just throw it out completely. 

"We want our kids and families to be safe and the way to do that is focus on things that we know works, like prevention," she said.

But some say knowledge of where a sex offender lives and works is preventative. 

"When the kids go outside you want to make sure they are safe every way you can," Churchill said.

And there are quite a few people, 44,000 to be exact. Just to put it in perspective FOX 2 did a quick search of the registry and found nine sex offenders within a half mile of the station.

"There are more people on the registry than live in Mount Pleasant or Port Huron," Auckerman said.

All of which is why the ACLU is asking lawmakers to make some changes.