BARAGA, Mich. (AP) — A Michigan man can’t go home again — maybe for as long as nine years.
The unusual restriction was upheld this week by a federal appeals court. When Eugene Rantanen is released from prison this year, he can’t set foot in his home county, Baraga, while under the supervision of a probation officer.
Rantanen was convicted of a sex crime in 2009. He has twice been returned to prison for violating conditions of supervised release.
Rantanen admits that Baraga, a remote and sparsely populated area in the Upper Peninsula, isn’t a good place for him to deal with drug and alcohol problems. He said he doesn’t want to live there, but he objects to being banished for years.
Rantanen, 28, said he won’t be able to visit his elderly mother or attend funerals and family events. He’s a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community.
“Family connections, tribal relations and religious practices are all important supports to a person who has addiction issues,” his lawyer, Elizabeth LaCosse, said.
The appeals court acknowledged that “exile is not a pleasant experience.” But it said Rantanen has a history of bad decisions when using drugs and alcohol.
“It may well be that a clean break from Baraga County is necessary,” Judge Danny Boggs wrote for a three-judge panel.
The restriction was ordered by U.S. District Judge Paul Maloney, who said he might revisit Rantanen’s supervised release after five years. The appeals court said Maloney could consider easing the restriction in a family emergency.
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