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. Brian

    Two different Brian's and almost the same comment!

    May 17, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  2. Bob

    Those of you who are cheering this decision are very short sighted. This is not the fix to what is a genuine problem, it is simply the opening of pandoras box. Looking beyond the specifics of this small subset of society it is setting a horrible precedent. There is a reason we have a court system that determines prison sentences. To allow the federal government to disregard that is terrifying. And as we said earlier, who's next? Shame on the Supreme Court for taking the cowards was out.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  3. David

    I sympathize with those who are violated by felons (regardless of their crime) upon their release. However, that just means their initial sentencing and rehabilitation in prison were failures; it does not mean that they should be held indefinitely. It is rather arbitrary how they are going to decide who to hold indefinitely and who not to.

    Bristoll and Esq. Singh summed this decision up best. This is a dreadful decision, one that attacks the very sense of our democracy.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
    • sis21

      Prison doesn't rehabilitate

      May 17, 2010 at 11:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. Toni

    Simple solution... Life NO Parole. Done

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

      Right, and who is going to pay for that? Get a clue.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sniffit

    WHO IS NEXT?

    May 17, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  6. Dingus Cajero

    Goodbye America, you had a nice run of it.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  7. publius enigma

    If we want them to stay longer than their sentence why is the sentence that short in the first place?

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

      Exactly my thinking. Change the sentencing to reflect the recidivism rather than set the precedent of jailing people based on potential risk. Hell, every one of us POTENTIALLY is a murderer or a thief.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  8. AJay

    Wow. I don't know how I feel about that....

    May 17, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  9. Mike

    This should be a temporary solution until the laws are changed to reflect tougher sentences.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  10. Frank

    This should also apply to murderers and auto thieves.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. Dell Roberts

    Only a small number of these people get locked up at all because of all
    these rights and those rights. Start locking up for life people SUSPECTED of these
    crimes and then we will be rid of pedophiles and have justice.
    God bless the United States of America.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      I suspect that you ARE the pedophile. Let me lock you up.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
    • James Forsyth

      Dear Mr. Roberts ; Thank you for your sociological
      and anthropological brilliance. I suspect the Richard under you
      may be the pedophile.
      James Forsyth , fellow Oxford University

      May 17, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  12. karl larson

    good old Amerikan Fascism at work

    May 17, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  13. Darius

    Seriously? I know a lot of these people represent the lowest and sickest members of our society, but come on. We can't keep giving away basic freedoms under the name of "security". Are people who made tasteless jokes about these subjects next? Are people who murdered next after that? And who exactly gets to decide if someone is beyond redemption? What if the person was wrongly accused? This sets a terrible precedent for the future of the legal system in America.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
  14. Paul

    This is wrong. The government is not able to handle the authority to hold people indefinitely, it has proven this time and time again. Make laws and punishments stronger, life/death penalty for multiple offenders, but do not give them the ability to hold people that have been released...you know it will be abused.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      Paul, I agree – so lets hang them or nail them to a pitchfork instead......they deserve to die a painfull and humaliating death.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. Bill

    WOW – Finally something sensible, a law that makes total freaking sense.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • Jen Miley

      It's not a new law, Bill. That is the difficulty that thinking people are having with the ruling. Legislators MAKE laws. Courts INTERPRET laws. An APPOINTED Supreme Court has just re-interpreted the laws (specificaly the fifth amendment) made by ELECTED legislators to be suject to revision at the court's will.

      May 17, 2010 at 12:37 pm | Report abuse |
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