New legislation would protect victims home addresses
EMMET COUNTY, Mich. (WPBN/WGTU) -- On Tuesday, a package of bills passed the Michigan State Senate that would allow victims of sexual assault and other crimes to make their home addresses confidential.
State Senator Margaret O'Brien, a republican from Portage, says the story of an eastern Michigan woman, Nicole Beverly, was part of the reason she decided to sponsor some of the legislation.
“Her ex-husband had assaulted her and had also threatened the lives of her and her children, and he was about to get out of prison," O'Brien said. "And while in prison, he had continued to try to hire people to kill her and the kids.”
The problem is that it's easy for anyone to track down someone's address, even if they've been a victim of a crime like sexual assault, domestic abuse, stalking or human trafficking.
“It’s all publicly available," O’Brien said. "If you think about it, you can get anyone’s address through voter records, through occupational licenses, your driver's license. There’s a lot of documents the state has that have a physical address on it.”
If the bill goes into law, people who qualify will have a generic, state address listed in the records.
Emmet County Prosecutor Kim Linderman says he has seen that easy access to records become a problem in the past.
"Unfortunately, the nature of some of the crimes were talking about in the legislation like sexual assault and stalking, and especially stalking, the real essence of the crime is that the person has an infatuation or some sort of reason to want to contact the victim," Linderman said.
Some resources are already available to people in northern Michigan, like the Woman's Resource Center in Petoskey, which offers safe housing to survivors.
“Confidentiality is often a concern for survivors and a part of their safety planning," said Angie Linsenman, the counseling program director at the Women’s Resource Center of Northern Michigan.
Senator O'Brien estimates about 3,000 people in Michigan will be able to use the address confidentiality.
That bill package has passed through the state senate unanimously and now will go to the state house.