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. David

    I cannot believe the amount of ignorance here.

    Keeping someone beyond their sentence is a far bigger issue than the offenders themselves. That's why a sentence is there. When we start ignoring sentences that are put in place by our courts and judges then who DO we listen to? I think it's absolutely insane to even suggest that keeping anyone beyond their sentence is acceptable.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  2. dojoho

    This is terrifying. Look, if the courts want life sentences, death sentences, castration or public flogging, then change the sentencing guidelines accordingly. But don't keep people beyond their original sentence. It makes no sense. I could just as easily argue that violent offenders stay locked up forever.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  3. alijrob

    Everyone has made valid points so lets cut this to 3 things.
    1. To hold someone longer than the agreed term is a sort of "breech of contract" and should be called what it is, kidnapping.
    2. Someone who violates our children does deserve to loose all of their civil rights for ever how long. Possibly longer than the current sentences pending serverity.
    3. IF YOU CHOOSE TO BREAK THE THE LAW, THEN YOU ALSO CHOOSE TO EXCEPT THE CONSEQUENCES. However, there are alot of cases where the offender either was falsely accused or unknowingly broke the law.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:54 am | Report abuse |
  4. John

    I am truly scared. I didn’t know there were that many self righteous rednecks out there.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  5. Falcon5

    If you want them to get out, let them come stay at your house when they do.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • True

      Sorry, I live too close to a school. It'd be a crime for them to be there. Oh, heard about how some states laws are so tough that offenders basically have to live under overpasses cause everywhere else is 'too close' to a church or school or whatever... Another great example of the great nation America has become

      May 17, 2010 at 11:59 am | Report abuse |
    • alijrob

      I have. Its called forgiveness. and everyone can change so everyone desreves a 2nd chance.

      May 17, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Brett

    Its interesting to me how many people on here are advocating for this ruling. While I don't disagree that the convicted should have longer sentences when neccesary. To hold them past their date, goes against what this country was founded on. It clearly violates our bill of rights for a right trial.

    Everyone here can argue to try and say what if its your kids that get violated next. But unless you have some magical survey that says 100% of the released do it again, there's no reason to lock them up indefinitely. If there is reason that they need to, in extreme cases, then get a psych test and put them in front of a judge again.

    Otherwise, what the hell do we have a trial system for? If they can say, "yeah you're guilty so we're going to lock you up, and you're not getting out until we tell you" What kind of precident does that set?

    May 17, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • T

      Brett, read the decision, not just the artice. What you're proposing is pretty much exactly what it says.

      May 17, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Smartypants

    How do you castrate women?

    May 17, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bird

    Here here! ... Side-note: very top of comments: conversation=hilarious.

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

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

    May 17, 2010 at 12:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • FedBacker

      I think that was his/her point...

      May 17, 2010 at 12:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. ME3

    I feel if a defensless child is hurt by a predator that predator should be locked up and the key thrown away....if further down the road they are found not guilty...due to DNA, or what not....they can be released...U don't want to murder someone who is not deserving....but I don't believe anyone who victimizes little children should be set free into society

    May 17, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chuck

    People you are not thinking clearly and only thinking of pedophiles only. While that may seem to be the case at the moment this ruling isn't solely for just that crime it is a broad statement and this new ruling can apply to any crime be it petty burglary. It can be applied to those that look like they may commit a crime and just that. We are on a spiral downfall this has been happening for some time.

    May 17, 2010 at 12:09 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John

    A bar brawl participant who finishes his sentence is then kept in prison because somebody "thinks" he might assault someone again?

    May 17, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Thenwhyatrial

    If you want to keep them in jail forever, change the sentencing guidelines. But to hold anyone beyond the time appointed during sentencing does not seem fair.

    May 17, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
  13. A Victim

    As a victim of childhood molestation, I agree that some pedophiles NEED to stay longer than the maximum sentences. Some are incurable, and if, when the time comes to let them out the state KNOWS they will be a repeat offender, it is their RESPONSIBILITY to protect us. I don't care if it's in prison, or in a special facility. I was taken advantage of by a repeat offender whom should have NEVER been on the streets. As far as I'm concerned, the constant worry about getting killed by the other prisioners is EXACTLY what they deserve.

    May 17, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Waxman

      Sorry about your experience. Just move on and try to overcome your bitterness. It might be doing more harm to you than the abuse itself.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Chuck

    BP aka the oil spill needs to be in this category as well, they are a threat to us and our environment!

    May 17, 2010 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Roger

    A Victim, how does the state KNOW they will be a repeat offender? Can the state-paid psychiatrists see the future? Can they say with 100% certainty that someone will be a repeat offender?

    No. The end.

    May 17, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
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