Michigan’s Lifetime Electronic Monitoring of Sex Offenders

Gavel and law books depicting lifetime electronic monitoring

The Dr. Larry Nassar trial and story continues to unfold on the national stage. He is the former MSU employee – a sports medicine doctor – who also worked for the women’s gymnastics organization USA Gymnastics.

Nassar has pleaded guilty to 7 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Ingham County, Michigan. Each count is punishable by 25-40 years in prison.

In addition, Nassar pleaded guilty to three counts of the same charge in Eaton County Circuit Court a week later. The charges were related to the assaults reported by gymnasts at Twistars Gymnastics Club – and civil suits from 145 plaintiffs.

He’s already pleaded guilty to federal charges for possession of child pornography and is awaiting sentencing.

Dr. Nassar has pleaded guilty as part of plea deal. However, he has also made the statement that pleading guilty would be the best way to bring about healing for all the women and girls he has assaulted.

Nassar likely will not live free in the outside world again. As part of his conviction, he will have to submit to lifetime electronic monitoring.

Lifetime Electronic Monitoring in Michigan

Michigan’s laws regarding lifetime electronic monitoring are among the strictest in the US. The Michigan Legislature added the law in 2006, under Michigan Penal Code MCL 750.520n. It applies to those convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct or second-degree criminal sexual conduct when the victim is 13 years or less and the defendant is 17 years or older.

Anyone convicted of first or second-degree criminal sexual conduct is subject to lifetime electronic monitoring, even if the offense was nonviolent and even if it was the first offense.

This is, of course, once the offender is released from prison. Maybe it’s not likely to happen in the case of Dr. Nassar – since his victims are many and he may be sentenced to multiple life sentences. However, there are some other notable things about this part of the law, making it especially harsh:

  1. The statute doesn’t provide for any relief from wearing the monitor.
  2. The statute states that the offender bears the entire financial cost of wearing the monitor, despite his or her ability to pay.
  3. The penalty is imposed regardless of – actually in the absence of – any assessment of whether the offender is likely to re-offend.
  4. The decision to impose lifetime electronic monitoring is not subject to review.

Should Michigan Allow Reviews for Lifetime Electronic Monitoring?

Electronic monitoring laws aren’t the same in every state. Georgia and Louisiana, for instance, have a review board to classify sexual offenders and include provisions to determine risk, reevaluate, and apply judicial review of the board’s classification.

The states without risk assessment and review processes – like Michigan – increase the burden on the state. Essentially, we’re monitoring non-violent sexual offenders and those not likely to re-offend.

Over to You

What do you think? Should Michigan change its laws to make the risk assessment and reviews part of imposing this penalty? Is decreasing recidivism rates in this way as important as each citizen keeping all of his constitutional rights, or more important?

Once someone has violated other people in this way – including children – and gets caught, which of his or her rights should he/she retain?

Finally, if you or someone you love has been charged with criminal sexual conduct, it is critical that an experienced criminal defense attorney be consulted. Please call my office as soon as possible.

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