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. Confused

    Interesting commentary on this site... a bunch of real thinkers... do whatever you want to someone else in the name of protection...

    I guess the idea of a serving time as being equal to paying your debt to society is old-fashioned. So, call me old-fashioned.

    We need more attention and money in social services... then we won't need so many jails.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  2. Newbern W Johnson

    First offense, ten years, no parole. Second offense, life in solitary confinement, no parole.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
    • LL

      Agreed! Best solution thus far.

      May 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joseph

    this is a complete outrage. a trial should be done to keep these people longer.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  4. James

    It's official now; we can be punished for crimes the government thinks we may commit in the future.

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

      Yeah, this is actually pretty terrifying. Fascism, anyone?

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

      what are you trying to say, James?

      May 17, 2010 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
    • James

      I'm trying to say that, after these people have carried out their sentence, they can be held forever, not for a crime they *have* committed, but for a crime they may commit later. That's not something we want the government to have the power to do, regardless of who the decision is aimed at.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
    • JB

      Agree 110% with the Supreme Court. Lock these monsters up FOR EVER. Every animal taken off the streets makes us all safer. Better still, have an entire city in the middle of a desert where these animals are sent into exile. Then, slowly get rid of this low life. There is NO REDEMPTION. They do NOT deserve a second chance. Good call Supreme Court!

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

      Bet you wouldn't think it was unfair if one of these sickos got out and re-offended and your loved one was the victim. Most of these people they are talking about are 2 and 3 times (if not more) offenders. The federal system does not have a 3 strikes law.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  5. Jennifer M., Chicago, IL

    While I agree these guys are very dangerous, I don't agree with the practice of keeping anyone behind bars when they have served their full sentence. Anyone could be next, for any offense. Either increase the sentences, or give judges more discretion in lengthening the sentence.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Barack O'Stalin

      Yes, which is why I'm for MANDATORY LIFE SENTENCES. Penalties need to be codified, not just arbitrarily dished out against people.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. CQ Scafidi

    This decision renders the word "sentence" meaningless. If they are choosing to make this change to our system of Justice, then why not just sentence them to life with the possibility of parole upon verfication that they will not commit further crimes.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  7. Anonymous

    Let's go one step further please and castrate them while they are sitting around in prison.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  8. Chris

    sad day for our country. While yes, this sounds great and we all want to chear it, just think about its consequences and how wrong this is (and that two wrongs do not make a right). Keeping someone past their sentence? What is the sentence for then? Why not make it a longer sentence with opportunity for parole? This is just plain wrong to do. But let's hear it! Chear angry mob, Chear! What the hell is going on here.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:47 am | Report abuse |
  9. raingods

    Absolutely ridiculous. You serve your time you get released. The problems lies with the sentencing, and it shouldn't be usurped by the Feds. You people who think that's okay are just ignorant of the word justice. You're more interested in revenge.

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

    People, this is NOT a good idea. We are entering dangerous territory when the government can arbitrarily (that's what this will lead to) extend somebody's sentence.

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

    "THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

    THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

    THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    THEN THEY CAME for me
    and by that time no one was left to speak up."

    Fear is a dreadful ruler.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
    • DonS

      Debbi, a very idiotic comparison. A jew, a trade unionist et al. do not compare to a rapist.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Pat

      Agreed DonS. Debi, lame comparison.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • bilbo

      ..don't worry, Debbi..Don S. is obviously not enlightened enough to realize what you are saying..I blame this to the dumbing down of society begun during the Reagan years..only see everything in terms of black or white....

      May 17, 2010 at 11:07 am | Report abuse |
    • bofwisconsin

      That poem DOES apply. Read these comments. A few people have said the Supreme Court justices that voted against this should live in a cell with the criminals. A few people have said anyone commenting against it should as well. They have proposed castration and killing these people (without due process).

      I have also seen people in other comments elsewhere say members of the ACLU should be tortured to death. These kinds of people are REAL in our country, and make no mistake while many of them are all talk some of them WOULD go after you for opposing them if you could.

      If no one speaks up, before you know it they are going after those you care about, and then if you speak up they'd go after you. Due process is a central part of our checks and balances to make sure we remain a free country. The people commenting here that DO NOT believe in freedom of expression need to be argued with, lest we all sit in complacency while they transform our great nation into a fascist state.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  12. JusticeIsGone


    May 17, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  13. Unreal

    So why have sentence... makes the justice system a mockery! If you do the time you should be free. Why not just keep ALL prisoners until we think they will not harm anyone! Better yet lets just test everyone and lock up anyone who fails the friggin test! Minority Report here we come!

    May 17, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  14. Mike

    In principle it is good but there should be some strict guide line to follow, rather than giving whole disretionary power to officials and who know that transpire in the long run and who can be put behind bar who does not

    May 17, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jordan

    Habeas Corpus??????

    May 17, 2010 at 10:49 am | Report abuse |
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