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. fastfreddy

    The people here that cannot see the problem with the supreme court ruling are the same people that can't see the arizona law problem, These people are the problem, they might vote for things like this in the future so I say lock these people up.

    May 17, 2010 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AS

    I read quite a few of the comments....LAW...yes every case is different and so is every person and pedophile. I had to work with some in my line of work. While I agree that they cannot be "cured" some of them work very hard at controlling their urges. These are the ones that deserve help to continue to control their urges and should get a chance to be out there. I am however not so sure about the ones who cannot control their urges and/or have no desire to do so. I have children and I must say I would rather not see them back on the streets. Is continuing a prison sentence appropriate....most likely not. We need to find a different solution to this problem.
    As others have noted is a slippery slope when we let the government decide.

    May 17, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  3. fastfreddy

    Accually, we could just give kids tests in elementary schools to see if they might pose a threat to future society and then jail them if we suspect them.

    May 17, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |

    For all the over the top commentors who follow the party line of the Right is always Reicht. Slow down a minute. Your militias may soon fall under this ruling.

    And you left whingers who claim the Obama can do no wrong. The courts are wrong. Give us liberty or give us death. Soon your perchance for long verbage at the outrages of the latest ruling and what people should do to show their distaste may soon fall under this ruling. A ruling Obama sat over. Just like GitMo isn't closed yet. We still have troops in Iraq. And there was never any accountability for the lies perpetrated during the Bush years. Obama is just another puppet wearing the mascott suit.

    History teaches us that the dictator comes to power on the shoulders of the bullys. Sorry brownshirts. Know who you are. And they do this by over riding a segment of their population. Sorry illegal immigrants. Can't have a nationlistic frenzy without someone to martyr. And the supposed thinkers and cafe chatters of that time would squabble and fret and be rounded up one by one for speaking seditious thoughts. Then not long after the dictator comes to power the same rulings of sedituous behaviours are used against the brownshirts as they are now the unwashed rabble no longer needed to make the trains run on time.


    Right wing. Left wing. Any discussion that can in and of itself be labeled as anti government can be construed as seditious and illegal by it's mere utterance. And a seditious mind does not change easily or quickly. And protecting the American people from seditious thoughts is in everyone's best interest.

    I wouldn't worry about anyone being kept in jail forever for a DUI. I would worry more about someone being kept in jail forever for seditious thoughts, because thar be one slippery ice covered slope leading to the chasm. Once the case is made you are seditious how can you go about proving you are not?

    And with this ruling they can keep you in jail until they decide you are no longer a threat to the public good, no longer seditious, or pose no potential threat anymore. Or forever.

    May 17, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. ChipFoose

    A major supreme court decision and this is all we get? A 100 word snippet? I guess Jon & Kate plus 8 is more news-worthy and I guess I better go check who Tiger's banging now. This is pathetic, there is no investigative journalism anymore.

    May 17, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • misapplication of this statute?

      I agree 100%

      May 17, 2010 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jon


      May 17, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Consider this

    1 Corinthians 10:
    No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

    I fully agree that pedophiles need to be locked up for the protection of the greater society. That's why they're in jail in the first place! If they should be in there longer, then SENTENCE them longer! Someone much earlier made the argument that any criminal being released represents a danger to society, due to their "rehabilitation to society" hasn't been proven yet. This is grounds to hold ANY prisoner who has already been convicted of a crime indefinitely. I fully agree. The solution isn't an indefinite sentence. That is, in my opinion, cruel and unusual. The purpose of being sentenced is to find out what your debt to society is for the crime you have committed. Telling someone "Yeah, we'll tell you when your debt's been paid...", sounds, well, like prisoner slavery, on some weird level. Anyways, sends chills down my spine!

    May 17, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. autumn

    I think these people need to be locked up forever. as a child i was one of the unlucky one who got messed with. it has messed me up and i dont want to take the chance of that happening to someone else. they are sick and jail is the best place for them.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rainboweyes

      I totally agree Autumn. My myspace page is dedicated to causes to protect children and has a generator link on it to find predators in the area so that way people are informed where they are. It lists the address picture of said offender.
      Heres the link:

      May 18, 2010 at 5:09 am | Report abuse |
  8. Urinal Gum

    I hate this crap. It does nothing to help people (it most likely hurts them), but it is meant to make politicians and others look good. I'm surprised by the Supreme Court.

    May 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Land Of The Free

    No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    May 17, 2010 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Dr. Mom

    Just another useless, half-assed attempt to take away our rights. Has anyone ever shown that ONE crime was prevented by Megan's Law? People just don't do their research and think things through. Take away the Justice's crack pipes.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Alex

    What twisted logic! "I am against locking people up beyond their sentences, but summary executions are fine by me!" You people are fascists and turning your nation into a fascist state, going the way of Nazi Germany, complete with scapegoats. You will all get what you deserve in due time, though. You will find yourselves living under a tyrannical regime in which YOU will the next person who will be locked up indefinitely, tortured, or executed for whatever "crime" the State decides to pin on you.

    May 18, 2010 at 2:16 am | Report abuse |
  12. Bill Melater

    Bye bye America, we hardly knew ye!

    May 18, 2010 at 3:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. Rainboweyes

    People have to understand that this ruling has came down after years of pedofiles receiving light or no sentences for harming children. These are not the nice people that are your close neighbors that you know well, these are repeat offenders. It says in the article if the offender displays the tendency then they can be held over and other inmates have the same reprocusion if they commit a crime in prision time is tacked on (at least this is the way Im understanding the article). These people with rights have taken away the rights of the innocent and stripped them forever, permanently stealing their childhood. These people are better off being called monsters!!! They didnt stop when they children screamed!!! And they cried and screamed and screamed and they didnt stop because they are evil monsters and they will burn in HELL!!! We should string them up in the courtyard of the towns like was done in my grandfathers day. I say the punishment that everyone is wining about isnt enough, but its a start. WHEN YOU HAVE HARMED A CHILD IT SHOULD FOREVER BE ON THEIR RECORDS!!! But if I had my way they would all be put to death!!

    May 18, 2010 at 4:52 am | Report abuse |
  14. 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. >>> 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 |
    • 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 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
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