May 17th, 2010
10:20 AM ET

Supreme Court: Sex offenders can be held indefinitely

The Supreme Court ruled Monday the federal government has the power to indefinitely keep some sex offenders behind bars after they have served their sentences, if officials determine those inmates may prove "sexually dangerous" in the future.

"The federal government, as custodian of its prisoners, has the constitutional power to act in order to protect nearby (and other) communities from the danger such prisoners may pose," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the 7-2 majority.

Monday's other Supreme Court rulings:

Court: Sentencing juveniles to life without parole 'cruel and unusual'

High court rules for father in international child custody case

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Filed under: Justice • Supreme Court
soundoff (485 Responses)
  1. name

    Yeah, keep them, until they regain their virginity, if that ever going to happen

    May 17, 2010 at 10:29 am | Report abuse |
    • Guy

      Are you retarded? you can't regain your virginity. It's impossible.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • me

      I think thats the point Guy

      May 17, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Michael M

      I agree that people should be more informed about the particulars before passing such extreme jusgement on the situation, but I think CNN shares some responsibility for not digging into this for the readers and bringing the particulars to light, thereby qualifying this story.

      May 17, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • B LAW B LAW B LAW

      @LAW
      Thanks for shedding absolutely no light on the "facts behind the ruling" but instead taking that chance to berate everyone for not being as smart as you obviously are.

      Way to curse the darkness instead of lighting a candle.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Blob

      It's disgusting that some of you think that the US should be allowed to hold prisoners beyond their sentences. This is American, not North Korea

      May 17, 2010 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Founding Father

      What happened to Americia? Someone has stolden American!

      May 18, 2010 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Jesse

      Jesse

      Peoples favor? I have a hard time believing in a favor created out of anger and unwillingness to help people with the disorder. For example, pedophilia-the desire for pubescence... Theres a SMALL success at curing someone, electroshock therapy has been used, medications, 'medicinal castrasion'

      There's many things to be said about the abuse, and NO.. I do not agree with it.. But in many cases there is a past to the behavior.. a learned behavior.

      On an ethical stance, I have a problem seeing mentally sick people being locked up because of a lack of mental health and people being aware of the bottom line issues surrounding pedophilia. But then again, it happens all the time, some 75% or more of male inmates murderes rapist have a disorder where they produce too much testosterone.

      I'm not making excuses for anyone and again, I don't agree with anything that hurts someone else.. no one has the right to do the horrible things that happen.

      Where does our 'corrections' services help? when do we rehabilitate and when do we condemn? If someone has a medical/mental disadvantage, shouldn't the state intervene and rehabilitate that person...? and based on evaluations at a later time, attempt to reinstate that person to scociety after all debts are paid?

      Our current system claims to do so.. BUT it doesn't?

      None the less, it's the job of the state to protect people from people who are threats to society, I just dont comprehend where we are to jail people who have already served their time based on the states lack of being able to medically help people who can't help themselves.

      Extreme cases being an exception.. but should still be rendered treatment even while imprisoned.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedophilia >>> educated yourself before passing complete judgment.

      everyone has to pay for their crimes and wrong doings
      We all have the right to quality of life.... We sure do keep death row inmates alive... "quality of life"

      May 18, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse| Reply
      Jesse

      PS. Don't forget that 95% of murders and stuff are what we call "Passion crimes" Ya know, spur of the moment.. not thought out or planned. IT JUST HAPPEND.. people should still and do have to pay.

      May 18, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jeff

    Good.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
  3. Me

    While I agree that they should not be let out, keeping them beyond their sentence is something else. Who next? For what reason. Just execute them and be done. This is opening Pandora's box.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • K

      I 100% agree with you here: this is a bit much. It can be argued that just about any convict is in some way putting other citizens in danger by being released; what other crimes will warrant this treatment? Lately, people (government officials included) seem to not value liberty at all.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • A

      I'm sorry "Me." I read your post totally wrong.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Me2

      I agree with Me. Keeping people beyond their sentences is something that this country fights against in 3rd world countries. I am ALL for stricter penalties, but holding someone indefinitely beyond their sentence is wrong. What will prevent them for doing this with every person that is convicted of a crime. Like I said, longer sentences are warranted, but if you want to keep them locked up forever, simply sentence them to that in the beginning.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • S

      I value liberty...for innocent children, not for pieces of trash who stalk them. Spare the liberal garbage, I care not for the rights of pedophiles.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • J

      I agree that it would protect our society but where does it stop, you are right who is next.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • WhatWhereWhenHow

      Pedophiles don't deserve any humanitarian consideration in my humble opinion. Lock them up and throw away the key or execute them immediately.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • TMaley

      While I agree that some of them probably should not get out, this definitely scares me. I agree with ME in that what other crimes will this start to carry over to and also as someone else mentioned the falsely accused.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • N R

      EXACTLY. Although they are complete drudges of society, people need to realize that if you begin letting the government hold them, what is next? It is a slippery slope and if you start asking other countries about their limited freedoms, I bet you would find that it began with cases like this one.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • Al

      I agree with ME. I understand the reason but this is opening pendoras box. If you have served a sentence then you should be done. Who is next ??? Dangerous giving The Govertment this kind of power !!! Increase the sentences for these crimes would be the solution.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • bofwisconsin

      You people advocating killing them or not allowing them any human rights should really think before you speak. That's a dangerous road to travel. Start pulling the strings out of human decency and eventually you become no better than the criminals you are attacking. Get rid of due process and human rights and eventually the system will become a monstrosity, justified by the evils of revenge and lack of care for suffering.

      These people should be locked up and kept away from others if they are dangerous, just as the Supreme Court ruled. The moment you start talking about torture or killing them though is the moment you take steps to become just as bad as them.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • William

      U R exactly right.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Execution or life sentences for pedophiles and rapists. They can't be cured. Personally I'd rather them have swift executions. However, you cannot set a precedent for holding a group of people beyond their sentence for "safety". Texting while driving is bad for my safety, let's lock those people up too. What about false charges? What group is next? This is only the tip of the iceberg. Write this date down as the day it all started.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • DC Buckeye

      I also agree. If there is this much of an issue with recidivism, then make the punishments harsher. They could also make a sentence dependent on whether or not a psychiatrist deems this person safe to be released. But make this all upfront, so that when a person does serve their time, they are released, and that is that. This ruling - however well-intentioned - is scary.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Claire

      I agree I am in no WAY for this crime , however if we keep them behind bars indefinitely, we are paying for them! So execute them, if they have been PROVEN guilty...?

      May 17, 2010 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
    • Ohhiya

      Im still touting the gilligans isle style prison. Guys like these who are to far gone for rehibilitation be given an island of their very own. To make a life for themselves outside these harsh laws and rules we impose on them. Do whatever you want but leave the island

      May 17, 2010 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • lilbini

      Just execute them.. opening Pandora's box...execute...execute... so where do we draw the line for executions? Execute.....WOW!!! Theses people are obviously SICK and so are you. This backward way of thinking is not the answer...are we still living in the dark ages? Execute, beheadings, burn them at the stake!!!! Yes I want my entertainment KILL KILL KILL...let the blood flood the streets!!!

      May 17, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • Me

      lilbini, do you think Ted Bundy didn't deserve to be executed? Gacy?

      May 17, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  4. Richie

    I think its time to neuter these people, and stop having the tax payers suporting them locked up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 17, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Erica

      actually richie, neutering these people is not going to do anything to stop them from further hurting anyone else. castraiting on the other hand will. neutering them is only going to be able to not have them reproduce.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Richie

      Erica,

      Thanks, My mistake, Then castrate like they do in other countries to stop this.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Dave

      Um, what happens to the small percent who are falsely convicted? "Oh sorry, here's your junk back." And do you feel the same if assume it is you or your child that is falsely convicted?

      May 17, 2010 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Lisa

      It just cost too much to contain and monitor those pervert. They should have a choice of either been castrated or have tatoo on their cheek or forehead so everybody will know who they are. Communities have spent too much resource on these worthless people.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:50 am | Report abuse |
    • Guest

      Richie,

      I agree with you 1million %. Castrate them, and THEN let them out. It's too much for us as taxpayers to have to foot the bill for the remainde of thier lives. So, I say, let them out, but take away ALL of of thier reproductive organs first!

      May 17, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Re: Lisa. haha ok Nathaniel Hawthrone. How about an "A" for adulturers while we're at it!

      May 17, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
    • JB

      Perhaps it's time to go back to what jail USED to be. It's up to you and/or your family to provide for your food and etc., and a daily fee for your room too! Time that the taxpayer stops paying for everyone in jail, it's not supposed to be comfortable after all. How about we put all the prisons under the control of Sheriff Joe in AZ!

      May 17, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • FunkDr

      Castrating has already been shown in some studies to not prevent pedos from re-offending. It is a mental issue.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • bofwisconsin

      It is important for every freedom loving decent person that believes in our countries values against cruel and unusual comment to respond to monstrous comments such as this.

      Keep them locked away if they are dangerous, but don't become barbarians that throw away the principles of decency.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • SfromMA

      Totally agree with you bofwisconsisn, people are letting their emotions get the better of them. Yes it is an atrocious crime, and they deserve harsh punishment but hold on to your common sense! Execute them immediately? Surgically alter them (as if that would do anything)?

      have you people gone mad? get a grip!

      May 17, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • BS76

      You guys calling for castration are right. All those teachers diddling their male students all need hysterectomies.

      May 26, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JayZurell

    This wouldn't even be an issue if rapists and pedophiles got automatic life sentences like they deserve. You can't cure them, so at least lock them up, so they won't harm the community.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:32 am | Report abuse |
    • MsDidi87

      Agreed.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • JB

      Agree 110%. Lock these monsters up FOR EVER. Every animal taken off the streets makes us all safer. Better still, have an entire city in the middle of a desert where these animals are sent into exile. Then, slowly get rid of this low life. There is NO REDEMPTION. They do NOT deserve a second chance. Good call Supreme Court!

      May 17, 2010 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Josh

      Or send them to the Catholic church. Isn't that where all the pedophiles hang out these days anyway?

      May 17, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • JJ3rd

      Lock em up and throw away the key !!!

      May 17, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • bofwisconsin

      And how do you propose they are this dangerous? Do you wish to see this zealous quest turn into a tool to make political opponents disappear? We have a justice system. A mob mentality is a monstrosity and not a solution.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  6. Johan

    Just execute them and be done with it.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Chase

      A bullet costs a lot less than having them spend years locked up.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  7. Johnny

    Its about time !!!! Hope the States do it next. Keep these animals locked up.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Lili

      Don't start insulting animals.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:41 am | Report abuse |
  8. JV

    I can't believe 2 justices voted against this...this should be a 9-0 decision.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • TwM

      The two Justices against this should be put in a cell with 4-5 of these criminals for a few hours of fun.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • JV

      I agree, TwM.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
    • bofwisconsin

      So you're basically saying you want this great nation to devolve into a fascist state?

      May 17, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  9. CYNTCAM

    WOW! Need specifics to be sure this is not a racial profiling, politically motivated holding of inmates.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:35 am | Report abuse |
    • JB

      STOP bringing race into this. If it just turns out that more blacks commit such crimes, statistically speaking, you are going to have more blacks. Does not mean that blacks are being racially profiled. The race card is being abused too much.

      Agree 110% with the SUpreme Court. Lock these monsters up FOR EVER. Every animal taken off the streets makes us all safer. Better still, have an entire city in the middle of a desert where these animals are sent into exile. Then, slowly get rid of this low life. There is NO REDEMPTION. They do NOT deserve a second chance. Good call Supreme Court!

      May 17, 2010 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      I think he was being Sarcastic JB....

      May 17, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • PJF

      Are you kidding me? Everything is about race, right?
      If this is racial profiling then it is biased against White Males. More than 95% of pedophiles are WHITE MALES! You were too busy printing your FREE O.J. Tee Shirt to see that fact. I guess in your world Tiger Woods lost some of his sponsors because he is Black!!!!
      In reply to.
      CYNTCAM
      WOW! Need specifics to be sure this is not a racial profiling, politically motivated holding of inmates.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • William

      When someone accuses you of playing the race card, but cites their own dubious stats on race; they are also playing the race card?

      May 17, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  10. terry

    Really bad idea to keep someone BEYOND their sentence. If they're dangerous, deal with that during trial with a life sentence if they may be that bad!

    May 17, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • puppet_master

      Terry 1 – Supreme Court 0.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Keri

      I agree – it scares me to think someone years later not even involved in the original trial can "keep" someone in prison based on some persons judgement – opens too many doors for future mishandling of inmates. If the crime warrants the possibility of needing to keep them they should deal with this in trial.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • Gina

      This is a slipperly, scary slope.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      I agree. This opens way to many doors for abuse of power. This is truly scary that we would allow this past the trial.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Apu Whopooped

      Not a slippery slope for me, since I'm not a pedophile. So let 'em rot if you're not going to just shoot them at the outset. Falsely convicted? Who cares, one less person in the world is no big loss.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
    • Supreme Court

      Terry, how do we know what will occur in the 25 years they are in prison? How do we know they will still be a threat when we sentence them? Its a slippery slope, but honestly, the answers to my questions are we don't. Tough situation. Sorry. Supreme Court 1, Terry 0

      May 17, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Nash

      To Apu, that is exactly the mentality that allowed Nazis to perform horrendous acts to fellow humans without much dissent from the populace. You may not be a pedophile, but if someone in power decides that you are dangerous to current status quo no matter what you did or didn't do, they now have every legal power to lock you up indefinitely by accusing you of being a dangerous pedophile. They can always re-define a dangerous pedophile to suit their needs to lock you up, for example, if you ever passed near an elementary school, that may become the justification itself.

      I hope that never happens, but this ruling opens a door closer to that reality.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. sean

    they should be put into state-funded mental health facilities and stay there until the time that the state determines them no longer a threat and cured.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Me

      They can't be cured. They need to be executed.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:40 am | Report abuse |
    • JB

      Total BS. Get rid of these animals, thats what we need to do!

      May 17, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  12. Matt

    Wait till they start abusing this and using it for ALL people locked up. The supreme court is a farce.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  13. Sue

    And when it's your son or daughter who is 18 and has a consensual relationship with a 16 year old, should all these punishments apply to them???

    May 17, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Newbern W Johnson

      Excellent point.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
    • TU

      Sue they are not saying ALL they are obviously referring to the sick minded pedaphiles, etc

      May 17, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
    • SF

      And who decides which is which?

      May 17, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • JB

      Teach your 18 year old to stay off 16 year olds. What kind of a parent are you if you cannot bring up kids with this BASIC sense of humanity and decency? Of course, if your 18 yr old is an unrepentant monster, put him away for life. Good riddance of bad rubbish. The 18 yr olds think they are the greatest thing since sliced bread, nothing like a few days in the slammer to teach them the ways of the world.

      I hope you are not one of those liberal parents who lets their 18 yr old get away with raping 16 yr olds and calling it 'consensual'. Consensual requires emotional maturity, and in this case there is none. Capitch?

      May 17, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      JB, ok, how about this: Your son is17 and has a 16 year old girlfriend. Nothing wrong with that, right? Oops, he just has his birthday, now he's 18 and she's still 16 for another 6 months. What now?

      May 17, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • Brad

      Not to mention that this is a state matter, not a federal one. And depending on the state, 16 can be of age.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • Joseph

      JB, you assume it is an 18 year old guy. What if it is your 18 year old daughter who is in a relationship with a 16 year old boy? Would you feel the same way? This is just a simple case of the government taking more control. We already are the laughing stock of the world with the biggest prison population. The government is looking for any and all reasons to put its citizens in prison and control them. You are just too blind to see that.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  14. Paul from Phoenix

    You need to take away their weapon. We all know what that is. So, somebody get the scissors!

    May 17, 2010 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • Bob from Texas

      Scissors would apply if the predator were male. (BTW – I agree with you completely about that!!) However, what about the female predators? They exist as well...

      May 17, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • saffrin

      Forget the scissors; you're thinking of the wrong head and this is why there is no cure and that execution seems to make sense.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      We can put Lorena Bobbit in charge of the sentencing phase..

      May 17, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  15. bama

    They should never be allowed to see the light of day.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
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