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. Comrade Lenin Obama

    Good news! The current Bolshevik government can now keep people locked up for an arbitrary amount of time if they deem you to be an "enemy of the people"!

    Everyone sing along! "So comrades, come rally, and the last fight let us face, The Internationale,, Unites the human race!"

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

      um... this is a ruling by the SUPREME COURT – not the Obama administration. you see, like Glenn Beck, you sacrifice your credibility when you make statements like this.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  2. wake up

    KEEP THEM. WHO NEEDS THEM?

    May 17, 2010 at 11:11 am | Report abuse |
  3. William

    The best answer is to sentence these losers to life without possibility of parole in the first place. I would feel better about a court taking liberty after due process–not some appointed government bureaucrat deciding who is released and who is just too dangerous.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  4. sh

    if you're not going to let them out after they've served their sentence, then why set a limit on the term they serve? either make it life in prison or kill them. it's ridiculous to tell someone they have a specific period of time to serve in prison, after which they will be let out... only to renege... that seems to be a slippery slope!!!

    May 17, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  5. Cybersport

    what about those who are wrongly convicted? Of course the police are never wrong

    May 17, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  6. DebKP

    What is scary here is the number of people who think this was a good idea. Slippery slope indeed.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  7. Marc

    This ruling has just undermined our justice system. When found guilty, you are sentenced to serve jail time or given another consequence to fulfill. That is your punishment, your price to pay, in other words, for your transgression. Once your time is served, your punishment fulfilled, your debt paid to society, you are free. There may be stipulations that will eventually fall away (parole, probation) and restrictions (no right to vote, carry a weapon) but these are stipulated in the law and before the sentence is served. Once sentence is served, the sentence can't be changed because then it negates the authority of the original sentence or any sentence in our justice system. Why have sentencing at all if it can be changed?
    If people are upset about the consequences of the act that was committed, change the consequences; don't make the system arbitrary and thus ambiguous and obsolete.
    By the way; rehabilitation is possible for some of these folks.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  8. Michael

    This decision is mind boggling. It invites the same arbitrary sentences handed out by unlawful societies. These people, especially those who prey on children, should never be released, but the sentences should be handed down by juries or sentencing judges.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  9. chuck

    As long as prisons are the last place on earth where a person can be rehabilitated, then I think that at the very minimum they should be sent to some place that actually tries to rehabilitate after they have finished their sentence. Rehabilitation should have been part of their sentence from the beginning of their incarceration. Seems we are only really interested in sticking it to pedophiles. Murderers get out of prison all of the time and commit new murders. Rapists are repeat offenders also. Believe it or not, it is easy for a hell-bent ex-wife to point a finger at an ex-husband and scream pedophilia and it is even easier to convict. Jurors don't always want physical DNA proof and they are clueless in detecting coached testimony from a child. He said, she said will convict a man for pedophilia. Your arcane castration ideas would net a few innocent men I'm certain.

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

      You are so right. I applaud everyone on here who is truly thinking about what this means, and not giving a knee-jerk, thoughtless reaction.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  10. Cristina

    Forget about keeping them after their sentence has been fullfilled. Implement harsher penalties (i.e. Capital Punishment) and ABSOLUTELY BAN the possibility of parole for these monsters! I don't understand the concept of parole anyway. Make criminals finish their sentences. Don't bail them out early! My girlfriend's abuser will have the possiblity of parole soon. Last time he got out of jail he came straight to her door. Well guess who'll be waiting at the door with a castration kit this time!

    May 17, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  11. Thor

    this government = tyranny. It's time to form a new one.

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

      It's not this government you have to worry about. Years from now on the other hand it could be abused out of control.

      Don't let the far-right sound bites scare you like that. If you really think the current government is "socialist" and out to get you you've let the far-right liars get to you. That said you're right to be concerned about this. In the future an untrustworthy movement from the left or right could push too far. The far right has far more concerning support in the country right now, but that doesn't mean I'm not wary about the far left too (of which the Democratic Party is NOT controlled by, despite the sound bites).

      May 17, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. US Marine

    This is just wrong if your going to punish them do it in the beginning give them a longer sentence.. But its not right for you to held in prison after your term... Dont they say to Do the crime pay the price. Well isnt the price the jail sentence they get?? hmmmm

    May 17, 2010 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kevin Cantu

    Bout freaking time....this pretty much gives states the same green light as well. Thank you SCOTUS.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
    • Comrade Lenin Obama

      Good news! The current Bolshevik government can now keep people locked up for an arbitrary amount of time if they deem you to be an "enemy of the people"!

      Everyone sing along! "So comrades, come rally, and the last fight let us face, The Internationale, Unites the human race!"

      May 17, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
    • iustas

      This is the Bush Supreme Court, leaving it's legacy!

      May 17, 2010 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • bofwisconsin

      It's not the current government you have to worry about. Despite the far-right fear mongering Obama is NOT a socialist or communist. This is worrisome though. A future government decades from now could be, or the far-right could win the country back and start dismantling our civil rights, locking up anyone who protests too loudly. It's very dangerous. I think the far-right is a far more immediate threat (just look at all the comments supporting castration and death without due process), but either extreme is a threat and since history will go on far longer than any of ours lives it's important to protect the country from abuse of power.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  14. Ralf the Dog

    This is a good idea. Why do we bother giving these people trials? We all know they are guilty. What if one of these people does something but the government does not have the evidence to convict. What if the person does not look right and they think he might commit a crime in the future? Not having committed a crime is not an excuse.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • chuck

      I just read over 150 posts, and this is the most stupid one I have read. Actually, I take that back, because I'm not really sure as to what in the world I just read.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:25 am | Report abuse |
    • bofwisconsin

      I think it's a sarcastic comment about all the far-right people commenting attacking due process and promoting cruel and unusual punishments.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  15. Just say no

    I think parents/kids should be locked up when they dress their child like a tramp then complain about the obvious outcome!!!

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