Michigan Senate passes online child-abuse registry; now goes to House

FOX 17 file photo.

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Senate has passed a package of bills that would allow anyone to look up convicted child abusers in an online child-abuse registry – for free.

The three bills dubbed “Wyatt’s Law” passed Thursday in the state Senate without opposition, and will now be taken up for consideration by the Michigan House. A number of lawmakers proposed a package of bipartisan bills in 2017 that were fine-tuned into the current legislation sponsored by East Lansing State Senator Curtis Hertel Jr. He posted on his Facebook page, “I am so proud..the inspiration for this legislation, Wyatt, at 18 months old suffered severe abuse at the hands of a previously convicted child abuser. Every parent deserves access to information to protect their children and this legislation does just that.”

The legislation calls for establishment of a computerized law-enforcement database of registrations that would include the abuser’s legal name and any aliases, date of birth, and the address where the person resides or will reside. Other data would include the name and address of any school the person attends or plans to attend, all telephone numbers, electronic-mail addresses, a digital copy of his/her passport, occupational and professional licensing information, a complete physical description of the person, and a brief summary of convictions.

Erica Hammel of Macomb County began pushing for the bill more than four years ago, after her one-year-old son, Wyatt Rewoldt, was severely shaken in 2013. The woman who pleaded guilty to child abuse in the case had two prior child-abuse convictions.

Hammel tells FOX 17 in a Skype interview that she waited six hours to speak with Michigan Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof, who was in legislative session.

“We got our meeting yesterday, and we got to talk to him – and he was wonderful. I could tell…I had a good feeling about things…It feels amazing. It feels like all my hard work has paid off.”

However, Hammel knows the state House has to approve the measure before it can go to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk to be signed into law.

“It should send a big message to the House…so I believe we have a really good chance now…this legislation is going to save lives.”

Hammel noted that child abuse is on the rise in Michigan. The Ohio senate passed a similar proposal Wednesday in that state known as Destiny’s Law.

A number of recent infant deaths and shaken-baby cases in West Michigan have drawn increased public attention to the matter.

 

 

 

 

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