December 29, 2005
LANSING – Governor Jennifer M. Granholm today announced that new laws aimed at protecting children from sexual predators while at school or day care will take effect Sunday, January 1. The new laws, which the Governor called for in a letter to state lawmakers last spring, also strengthen reporting requirements for convicted sex offenders to ensure that the state’s Sex Offender Registry is accurate.
“Parents deserve peace of mind knowing that their children are safe, especially when they are away from home,” Granholm said. “These new laws are aimed at protecting children from sexual predators while they are riding the bus, playing on the school playground, learning in classrooms, or at day care.”
The new laws create “School Safety Zones” that prohibit sex offenders from working or loitering within 1,000 feet of school property.
The new laws require criminal history checks and criminal record checks of persons applying for or renewing a certificate of registration to operate a family day care home or licenses to operate group day care homes, child care centers, or day care centers.
When a person applies for a certificate of registration to operate a family day care home or a license to operate a group day care home, the Department of Human Services must use the Internet Criminal History Access Tool (ICHAT), the Michigan State Police criminal history record database on all persons over the age of 18 residing in the home where the day care is operated.
The laws prevent teachers and other school employees who are convicted sex offenders from returning to the classroom. Schools must perform background checks before hiring new employees or contractors who regularly come into school. The laws also require schools to perform background checks on all current school employees and require school employees to report to schools if they have been convicted of a sex offense. A convicted sex offender may not be employed by a school in any capacity.
In addition, the new laws will allow evidence of prior sex crimes to be considered as character evidence at trial. In a criminal case in which the defendant is accused of committing an offense against a minor, evidence that the defendant committed the previous offense is admissible and may be considered for its bearing on any matter to which it is relevant.
“We must remain diligent until we have taken every possible step to protect our children,” said Granholm. “These new restrictions show sex offenders that we mean business, and we will not rest until we do everything we can to keep the ‘bad guys’ away from our children.”
The package also includes new requirements for people already on the state’s Sex Offender Registry, including notifying the state immediately upon vacating their current residence and increased penalties for failing to report accurate residency information.
Granholm has been a long-time advocate of child protection issues. As governor, Granholm has worked hard to promote action on the legislation going into effect, as well as a package of bills she signed into law earlier this year limiting children’s access to violent and sexually-explicit video games.
# # #