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. Jarrod Rager, Greeley CO

    The precedent being set with this ruling is not beneficial. If we look at the legal merit of the ruling we can see where it fails. The first is the idea that the punishment for the crime is incarceration for a specific duration, when this has been completed then the obligation to the system has been fulfilled – whether or not the duartion of the sentence was correct it has been fulfilled. Secondly, we do not measure a person's autonomy by the threat they pose. If we allow detainment because of the potential of harm then we have gone from a society presuming innocence until evidence proves guilt to a system where those who have the prediliction for crime are guilty before they have committed another felonious act.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  2. larry wi

    I don't think it's right, i would rather see them casterated, and be done with it!

    May 17, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  3. Jen

    Does this apply to those currently serving sentences, or going forward? Is this giving the federal government to power to overturn a judges previous sentencing?

    May 17, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. slc

    you have no idea the repercussion of what they have done. BAD decision. you people are ignorant of the facts. a lot of these people WANT to be castrated and ask to be but the doctors refuse. How's that for irony.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:43 am | Report abuse |
  5. C.Shakur

    Peoples this is nothing New the Feds are late on stuff like always Washington State (Over 10 years) has been keeping them lock up pass their release dates!

    May 17, 2010 at 10:44 am | Report abuse |
  6. Sean McElroy

    Hello Minority Report.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  7. Kuntry Bwoy

    Morality is always where the rubber meets the road for most Americans. Allowing government to imprison people based on the speculative possibility that they will offend again makes me a bit nervous.

    I don't want dangerous people on the street any more than the next guy. But it seems wrong to change the sentence once a prisoner pays the debt assessed for the crime.

    This poses a definite problem when you start looking at the offenders who accepted plea deals for their offenses.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  8. MasterofNone

    That's nice. But what about state offenders? This only covers those in the federal system.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  9. nytw

    I agree let's execute these sickos.
    I also think we should start executing drunk drivers as well because they are nothing more than a murder waiting to happen.

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

      First you have to get alcohol producers out of the pockets of lawmakers. Drunks are alcohol producers' best customers. It's kinda like cutting off alcohol sales at baseball games in the 5th inning. Ain't gonna happen.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • bilbo

      ..and I want to see Jaywalkers and panhandlers executed...but especially white collar tax cheats and scam artist...execute Maddoff and the others....

      May 17, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. Good Decision

    Because these people are "bad", and civil liberties don't apply to "bad" people.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  11. Laura

    Finally! Common sense rules.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
    • Barack O'Stalin

      Common sense = granting the government, which has NEVER demonstrated that it's trustworthy, the ability to keep people locked up indefinitely without charge?

      May 17, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. What the heck

    This is one step away from jail time for a thought crime. If the person is that much of a risk to society, take care of that at the sentencing for the crime. If that's a problem, change the laws for jail terms for crimes.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  13. Jon

    Then why bother giving them sentences less than Life without Parole? If it is a restriction in law, change the law.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  14. NiveK

    in the peoples best interest? this has screwed us as Free People, they can make up laws as they go along now, anything you do from hot check to speeding to whatever they can now say "well, looks like he might speed again so we better just keep his license" etc...

    May 17, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  15. Tom

    1984 isn't coming, its here. Next up, the government will be able to hold anyone indefinately for "the safety of society" for reasons of state security.

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

      1984 was a great year. Tigers won the world series. I like 1984.

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