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. Tree of Liberty

    What do I hear? Why, I think it's the sound of something swinging from lamp posts...

    May 17, 2010 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  2. mommaE

    This topic is very near to me, and I've never been prouder that the court has made such a decision. Yes, there are moral questions at stake here, but that's what our court system is for. The kinks will all be ironed out. No matter how severe their offense was they belong far away from our children, FOREVER!!!!! And anyone who can disagree with that can kiss my $%#!!!

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

      I hope you say the wrong thing about the wrong politician, and find yourself imprisoned indefinitely without charge.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  3. Greg

    @ Mike
    You are all screwed up if are more concerned about the right of the murderer then the protection of the people. Nothing is flawless you moron!

    May 17, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark

      How about the right of a dissident who Obama decides that he doesn't like?

      May 17, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      True, nothing is flawless. But thats why there is an established process guarrenteed by law that an "accused" gets a trial, has legal representation, there is a judge and a jury of peers that determines guilt or not, and then determines the 'punishment' if guilt is decided. It is a well designed, deliberate process that involves many people helping to decide this issue (helps keep the flaws out, that still, with all of that, happen). Now, we get to dispense with all this and some gov't worker (for whatever reason he decides) can keep you locked up forever despite all those wonderful legal protections we all enjoy. Well, i should have said "enjoyed"... Today is the day liberty died.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  4. David Ridgeway

    This is clearly a bone-headed ruling by the Supreme Court. In America, you are free once you've served your sentence.
    This ruling will be contested and reversed at some point in the future.

    In the meantime, the Congress needs to make or revise legislation that will increase the time offenders spend behind bars and will make the death penalty easily applicable to offenders such as would be held past their sentences.

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

      I wish it would be overturned but by who? There is no higher court and the Supreme Court almost never changes its mind.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. Cronk

    Now we are just like China! Just without the fiscal responsibility. :/ Let the witch hunts begin!!! 😀

    May 17, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
    • Waxman

      Gays or Hispanics or Jews or Blacks or Liberals or Conservatives or the mentally retarded or Jehovah's Witnesses or even Mormons or fat people might be next. Nazi Germany didn't come out of a big bang. It started slowly - just like America is doing now.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Roger

    "Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both."

    – Paraphrased from Ben Franklin

    May 17, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  7. Jo B Good

    Amazing. Simply amazing.

    More than half of the comments so far are INCITATIONS TO HATE, CRUELTY, TORTURE AND MURDER.

    What country is this ? Saudi Arabia ? Afghanistan ? Iran ?

    In 2010, America's got a long, long way to go before claiming itself civilized or being able to solve any new upcoming social challenges in this century. We're just this far from falling back to cannibalism, HUMANS EATING HUMANS, so incited and enticed to kill JUST EVERYTHING ALIVE that happens to find itself within a certain perimeter of any individual.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. srheard

    Here in Alabama, a 14 year old can get married with a parent's consent. In some states, 14 year olds are also eligible for the death penalty when tried as an adult in capital cases. So, if a 14 year old can be married by the state and executed by the state, should crimes against them be any differently treated than those against adults?

    This is rhetorical, of course.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  9. saffrin

    oh, and don,t forget, all crimes can be committed by both genders.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
  10. Kevin Schmidt

    This is a very slippery Pope indeed!

    May 17, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. maximus

    Let's make sure female offendors get equal treatment in Justice.For those of you recomending castration that means mandantory hysterectomys for women.WOW that just doesn't "FEEL" the same does it?

    The people of the U.S.A. should have the common sense freedom to be able to execute these perps in the commission
    of the crime.

    Failing being caught actually in commission,A real trail with a defense equal to all regardless of monetary status.

    O.J. proved a rich man can walk.We see it every day.The innocent who are poor get convicted.Now forever without a trail.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
    • True

      Silly Maximus, you should know all these draconian measures to detain without trial and what not are only for male perpetrators. Hehe, I was attacked once by a woman and I actually pressed charges against her. The judge actually berated me for talking back to a woman who was screaming at me haha and for 'wasting the courts time' (I guess expecting the laws to protect me too was a little extreme). She found the lady guilty cause as she said "I have to, you admitted in court you attacked him".

      May 17, 2010 at 11:52 am | Report abuse |
    • Land Of The Free

      Yes...No rich people in jail...Hope all you folks are rich???

      May 17, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. otgolfer

    I think towns should be set up in rural areas that are quarantined and only inhabited by the pedophiles. They can work and provide goods for the rest of the country to help pay for their upkeep. They will have to stay in these communities. Adult visitors can be allowed for short stays, but no children. It gives them some freedoms but zero access to children. It is a better option than prison.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  13. Ben Hur

    Now, about those terrorists.......

    May 17, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  14. kawika

    This will be the law of the land for years to come. How long did it take to overturn slavery. What a sad day in U.S. history. People in the future will wonder why we let this happen, it is the start of the end.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  15. Mathy

    Hurray for butt-secks!

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