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. Jo Diggs

    Wow, once again the supreme kangaroo court shows its ignorance.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  2. Duane

    It is about time, the two that voted against this should be removed from the court............ We the people need to be protected...

    May 17, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • br

      To "protect" us, you're willing to let the government have the right to hold someone past their sentence? You're crazy! This is a precedent, and it could end up applying to ANYBODY!

      May 17, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  3. Cheryl

    Wonderful. Let's put them all on an island together. When you molest a child you lose your rights.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • Falcon5

      Sounds good to me. Just make sure it's a crappy island.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  4. Nate

    I agree with the ruling. We're not going to make the perfect law that will be right 100% of the time. Some people need to be locked for years, and some should just never be allowed to go free. When we hold on to the law so tight, we allow our principles to over come our reason- and a lot of children get seriously hurt for life in the process. I'm not nearly as concerned with the rights of prisoners as I am with children who get molested by adults who have already been convicted of molestation and have to wait 10 years before they're allowed to do it again.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  5. freemancoop

    Wow. Why not give the federal government power to suspend habeas corpus, search your home without a warrant, listen to your telephone conversations without permission... oh wait. We already gave them that power.

    This ruling is so ridiculous. After someone has served their time, they should be let go, even if they're disgusting pederasts. Once again, the supreme court rules against freedom...

    May 17, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  6. Kevin Eric Smith

    The government has just confirmed, that there are no rules to its behavior. I reserve comment on the ultimater implications of that.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. John

    If permenant imprisionment is what is called for, then create laws that require that. Why imprision someone for whatever period then say, no we're going to keep you here longer. I have no pity for those who prey on children, this is one part of the law where we should be perfectly clear. If you prey upon a child, then we lock you up and throw away the key. Lets also make sure we don't imprision 16 year olds for sleeping with their 15 year old girlfriends.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  8. John

    Are you kidding me? What the heck is happening to this country? Where will this end?

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

    This country is heading off a cliff with regards to big government trying to control us ...

    May 17, 2010 at 11:31 am | Report abuse |
  9. Csmith

    Wow! I do agree, that they need to be locked up, but if they have served their time they have right to prove themselves to society. Yes, do we have repeat offenders? Absolutely, but again who are we to make such a decision? I am curious to see what criteria they think they will be using to make such a determination of who get's out and who doesn't. This is really going to open up a whole lot of mess! We need to ensure that they will be judged properly from the beginning!

    May 17, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  10. Bill

    This sends chills down my spine. In spite of how reprehensible the crime is, to just arbitrarily keep someone beyond the sentence that was handed down in a court of law opens a pandoras box for government abuse. The Supreme actually did this?! My God – what is happening to our country?!

    May 17, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • Land Of The Free

      Yeah...Just accuse them of being a pedophile and you can keep them in jail forever! GREAT IDEA! If the government decides you pose a threat to them, they can accuse you of this and keep you in prison FOREVER! GREAT IDEA! HELLO PEOPLE!!! WAKE UP!!!

      May 17, 2010 at 8:54 pm | Report abuse |
  11. jim

    I am not concerned about what this ruling does to pedophiles, they are garbage. I am, however, concerned about what this does to our judicial system. It tends to make a mockery of it. We can accomplish the same thing by automatically sentencing them to life in prison and having regular parole hearings to determine if any particular one does not need to be held any longer.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
  12. SJ

    Oh, my goodness! Some of you can really "blame" this decision on President Obama?!?! Please review the political leaning of the members of the Supreme Court. This right leaning court made this ruling, and honestly the right and the left (Roberts, Kennedy, Sotomayer, Alito, Stevens, Ginsberg, and Breyer) filed opinions concurring with the judgment.

    I'm not going to lower myself to explain the three SEPARATE branches of government to you! Go back to your elementary school social studies books.

    Information is your friend. The internet is a great tool. Go to the Supreme Court website. Please read the opinions for yourself.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • mommaE

      Yeah!!! Could not agree with you more. Personally, I think they should all be sentenced to life without parole bear minimum. This decision has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with who our president is. Think about it: this court is a conglomeration of inductees from the past 4/5 presidents, some have been there for about 25yrs. Both Dem. and Rep. They agreed in the majority, Were all these presidents wrong then?

      May 17, 2010 at 11:41 am | Report abuse |
  13. DifferentView

    While you all are hashing out what to do with these folks who made this mistake that they are already going to have to mentally and concientiously pay for for the rest of their lives, I thinkk I'll focus on those innocent ones to whom damage has already been done. I think I'll funnel my energies into trying to redeem what little mental and emotional stability is left in th e minds and hearts of the ones who don't understand and can't explain what has really happened to them. Aside from having to deal with all of the physical aspects that have trickled down upon them as a result ofsomeone elses 'issues', they have a much heavier cross to bear...and they're going to need someone to help them throught it.
    That would be me. Care to join me?

    May 17, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jess

    Ok good to keep them indefinitely but if you are gonna do that don't keep them past their sentence just make the sentence for the people deemed dangerous enough life in prison.... keeping people past their sentence isn't right.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  15. Tires

    At sentencing, they all appear to be similar, but after they've been observed in prison for a while, you begin to see their true colors. Some folks are just way too evil to put back out on the street. I don't think the judicial system is taking this lightly either, they understand that even convicted criminals have rights. Some folks are just plain nasty through and through.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      Aren't there already mechanisms in place to deal with that sort of thing though? Such as, if prison rules are broken, then time is added to their sentence?

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