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. Concerned

    Most of you people just don't get it. By giving this power to the government you effectively set precedent that the govt can keep ANYONE that 'may still pose a threat'. Without a trial. Without recourse. This will end up being used as a tool of tyranny some day, and apparently only a few people in this country are smart enough to realize this fact.

    As for Pedophiles, someone else posted, make it a life sentence and be done with it.

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

      They've already had a trial and been found guilty. Most of these sickos are multiple time re-offenders that have proven over and over again that they cannot be let out in society. This is not just some snap decision someone will make. There are evaluations upon evaluations that are performed on these people before this decision is made.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
  2. Cynthia Owens


    May 17, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  3. Virgalante

    I get it, the prison turned a monster into a nightmare, and now they can't be freed.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:53 am | Report abuse |
  4. mejazzbo

    Now congress should amend the law to reflect the supreme court decision. Life sentences for pedophiles. I must say, I don't agree with open ended sentencing for any crime.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  5. javakah

    Well, at least the Catholic church will be saving some money on pensions!

    May 17, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |

    All of you crying against this ruling..what do you say about an offender that repeatedly reoffends and hurts children, women and men? They constantly get sentenced, and released – then guess what? They do it again. If they are a serious danger to society then why keep gambling with our lives? Its seriously idiotic – and all of you against this should be sitting in a cell with these low lifes.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Mark


      Do you REALLY trust the government not to use this new found power to keep political dissidents locked up indefinitely?

      May 17, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Jack

      Then set up a 1 strike rule. You offend once, you get a normal sentence. You offend again, you never see the light of day. This is destroying our right to a fair trial and sentencing.

      May 17, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
    • danno

      If what you say is true, then there is something wrong with the initial sentencing.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
    • bofwisconsin

      You are exactly the kind of person people should speak up against. You just said for exercising free speech people should be locked up. I agree with the court's decision, but your comment shows such a contempt for the values of this country and the freedoms you should hold dear that any decent person must stand against people like you, who would turn our country into a fascist state.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  7. G. B

    One time is all it takes when it comes to the abuse of an innocent child. I work in an area where I see chidlren who are abused and what it does to them is irreversable. I am also a parent and view every child as if they were my own. If someone can do this one time then that is all it should take. Locking them up is too kind. They shouldn't be afforded the luxury of another meal or the peace of another nights sleep.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Old Goat

      Sorry. The supreme court is wrong on this one. By handing down this decision, they have stripped prisoners of their due process rights. Now, any faceless government wonk can flip a coin and keep anyone locked up for eternity, if they so choose. WRONG!

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

      Thats the scary part and the reason for people to get out and vote, that people like Old Goat who has such a low reading comprehension may vote.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:04 am | Report abuse |
    • A

      Just give them the proper sentence in the first place! Don't twist the legal system to whatever you feel at the moment.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:08 am | Report abuse |
  8. Butterfly

    If the guilty party have been sentenced and served there time, I dont know if keeping them locked up is the right thing to do, it potential opens up a race track for lawsuits and other legal foolishness. However, I do believe once the guilty party have been convicted, they should be castrated! Dont waste my taxes on feeding or housing these criminals.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  9. ali

    wow ya this is prob the best idea


    May 17, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  10. Mandamus

    Hey, why not go all the way? Harvest their organs.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  11. Brian

    Welcome to the slope! We're going down it, and boy is it slippery!

    May 17, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  12. Brian

    This is a dangerous and slippery slope that the court has put us on. This should scare the hell out of every American.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  13. Lid

    I do not condone any crime whatsoever, but if someone has completed their sentence and repaid their debt to society then they should be released. Just another step towards the United States of America becoming more fascist than it already is.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. Steve6167

    Finally an issue both the supporters of the President and the Tea Baggers can agree on. Right? No reason to release them.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:56 am | Report abuse |
  15. Ralph Gentry

    This is very troubling. If folks think such offenders should be locked up for life then let that be their be time in the pen. Who's next to be label, "Enemy of the State"? It will be interesting to here the logic for this decision.

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