Senate’s address confidentiality program for assault victims advances

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday approved legislation introduced last fall to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to hide their physical address from offenders, said Sens. Margaret O’Brien and Rick Jones.

The address confidentiality program would enable victims of domestic abuse, sexual assault, stalking or human trafficking to obtain a confidential address for official documents and mail correspondence to protect themselves from their past offenders.

“This legislation will save lives by adding a layer of protection for survivors of these horrific crimes,” said O’Brien, R-Portage, who sponsored two bills in the seven-bill plan. “It only makes sense that Michigan join with 37 other states in empowering survivors with the ability to conceal their addresses from their offenders as they seek to heal from the pain and anxiety of the past.”

A program participant’s unique identifier would also be used in the state’s Qualified Voter File system, so participants would be able to vote absentee instead of going to a polling location, which might reveal their physical address. They would also be exempt from jury duty.

The program would also afford children the same address confidentiality if they are at risk of being threatened or physically harmed or if they or their parents or guardians are victims of domestic violence, stalking, human trafficking, rape or sexual battery. A school would not be allowed to disclose the address of a pupil or a pupil’s parents or guardians if they are program participants.

“Creating the address confidentiality program will help protect those at risk of being found by an assailant,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “With this program we are helping those who have survived domestic and sexual violence, stalking, and human trafficking, and those who are afraid of being harmed by someone, to go about their ordinary day knowing that where they live is hidden.”

Senate Bills 655-658 and 954-956 now advance to the full Senate for consideration.