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

    YES!!! And for gods sake!! All we read about is people complaining about how these offenders are let out to repeat their crimes, and AGAIN once something is finally done, it's not fair! We wan't something done about guns on the street, just don't search houses where waepons are known to be! I honsetly don't know why they bother, because it's a no win situation

    May 17, 2010 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • The US Governement

      You laugh now, but wait until we decide to use your next speeding ticket as an excuse to keep you locked up indefinitely. "Public threat" indeed, HA HA HA.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  2. Barack O'Stalin

    This'll be a good way for the USSA governemtnt to get rid of dissidents. Trump up some charges against them, have them labeled as a s ex offender, then BAM, they'll never see the light of day again.


    May 17, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      You are completly nuts – don't turn this into something that it is not.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
    • Me

      Bill, this is just the beginning. Sure they pick a group now that everyone hates and the majority says ok. Next the drug dealers. Then the druggies...then shoplifting milk at walmart.

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

      Despite his ridiculous, missplaced and inflamatory political hyperbole, Barack O'Stalin does have a point. This ruling does have the distinct possibilty of being applied for opressive political reasons. I suggest you google Russian oil billionares and see how this approach to sentencing has been applied to Putin's opposition.

      Now if only Mr. O'Stalin's understanding of political history could some how progress to a point where he is no longer making ignorant comparisons between brutal fascist, communist dictators and President Obama...

      May 17, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Richard

    It is official now. If US governments do it, it cannot be illegal. Something like the governments in China.
    Just make government immune to all conducts. We do not need courts.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  4. fuzzynormal


    So the entire system of American law is upended for this exception? That's crazy. What's the point of the original process then if officials can ignore the it?

    All you folks that get hung up on the motivating crime of this decision need to take a deep breath and consider the ramifications of this precedent beyond the case-file...or is thinking beyond the scope of violent rhetoric too difficult for you?

    Bottom line: Americans can be imprisoned for what the government thinks we might do in the future. That doesn't scare that crap out of you?

    Thank goodness we had some dissenters on the court to this ruling.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
  5. GC

    One bullet to the head is a lot cheaper and would resolve the problem completely.

    May 17, 2010 at 10:59 am | Report abuse |
    • Will

      Then sue their estate for the cost of the bullet.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  6. Carlos Acevedo

    Dick Cheney is a threat to this country and society. What r we going to do with him?

    May 17, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  7. Richard

    WOW- this makes no sense whatsoever.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  8. Canada

    So let's classify all terrorists as pedophiles and lock them up indefinitely?
    For a country that parades itself around the world as a 'superpower', chastising iran and north korea for human rights violations seems kind of ironic now doesn't it? If you have a problem with these people, fix the sentencing, don't amend the law like this.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  9. MH

    The founding fathers are rolling in their graves. So long, due process. So long, civil rights. So long, liberty. Hello police state. Welcome to 1984.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  10. Li Tai Fang

    This is a mockery of the entire judicial process.
    What is the point of a sentence if the state has the right to keep someone there beyond its sentence?

    May 17, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  11. B

    I don't understand how the court only applies this to one type of crime – that is where the slippery slope comes in, people who have murdered or harmed others in any way could be determined to be a future risk. Then once this type of rule is applied to any type of criminal. All one needs to do to neutralize an opponent is get them into the system somehow. And when someone is the oppoenent of authority, what recourse does that person have when those in power hold all the cards.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  12. Joe

    Life sentences are not life sentences, they just call them that. These people are need of treatment. I say treat them, monitor them, find em a job to repay the treatment costs, and if they are determined to still be a threat, execute them. I am tired of paying for free meals and shelter and everything else that comes along with housing these dirt bags.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  13. Chuck

    I despise child molesters as much as the next person, but this isn't right. If you want to keep a child molester locked up indefinitely, then the original sentence needs to be life without parole.

    May 17, 2010 at 11:00 am | Report abuse |
  14. Brian

    There are things you can blame on the current administration... this isn't one of them. This is the Supreme Court and the Justices do not answer to the President.

    This is wholly messed up and I can't believe it is happening. Ignoring prison sentences and sending people to prison for life? Why both with the whole court system to begin with? It's not that I don't (ie I do) believe many pedophiles should be locked up for life, but put it in to law and enforce what's on the books. THE COURT SYSTEM CAN'T MAKE IT UP AS THEY GO. Oh wait, the Supreme Court just ruled they can. Well crap.

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

      I wonder what ever happened to checks and balances.

      May 17, 2010 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  15. Concerned

    People praising this decision need to look at the bigger picture. This put us on a slope in where the future will be a world of people staying in jail indefinitely no matter what degree of their crime was. RIP lady liberty

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