May 17th, 2010
10:38 AM ET
5 years ago

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.
The Supreme Court ruled Monday the federal government has the power to indefinitely keep some sex offenders behind bars.

(CNN) - 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.


Filed under: Supreme Court
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Sensible Cape Coral FL

    I think castration is a better solution. PERMANENT

    May 17, 2010 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  2. Franklin

    Bleeding heart liberals won’t hold them. They believe that sexual deviants were “born that way”, can’t control their behavior, and should not be punished something that is beyond their control.

    May 17, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  3. Bob

    Appalling. The Constitution should matter. I've no love for sex offenders, but if they are likely to be dangerous after a ten-year sentence, why not make it a THIRTY year sentence?

    May 17, 2010 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  4. AFR531

    Always keep dangerous animals behind bars.

    May 17, 2010 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  5. ThinkAgain

    I agree. Sex offenders cannot be rehabilitated; their sexual identities are set and they will always pose a threat.

    It is a very tragic situation all around, given that the overwhelming majority of sex offenders were sexually abused as children. The only way to stop the cycle is to eliminate opportunities for sex offenders to continue the devastation of sexual abuse.

    May 17, 2010 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  6. D. Tree

    Regardless of how heinous the crime is, it seems cynical if we don't believe in our own justice system. What's the point of having sentences if we don't believe in them? Might as well put people away for life for every crime – even better, why not execute them all? Some people will undoubtedly agree with this idea, but it represents the height of cynicism and a departure from our unique American form of justice.

    May 17, 2010 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  7. Paul from Phoenix

    Kinda surprised that the liberal wing was behind this ruling, with Thomas and Scalia being opposed.

    May 17, 2010 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  8. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Wonderful ruling. Finally something the Supreme Court has gotten right.

    May 17, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  9. Jay

    Finally something the court did that makes sense.

    May 17, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  10. Trey

    Goodbye Constitution... where is Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin decrying the destruction of the constitution?

    You can't hold someone beyond their sentence. If you want to keep them in jail for life change the sentencing guidelines....

    May 17, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  11. Annie, Atlanta

    Franklin, take it from a "bleeding heart liberal," that's just not true. I think some of them should get life without parole. Sex offender, however, is a broad term. A 17 year old boy having sex with his 16 year old girlfriend in some states would be considered a sex offender. A man or woman who sexually molests a child is a whole different story.

    May 17, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. Average American

    I believe Franklin should look into who the two dissenting justices are.

    May 17, 2010 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  13. SJ

    Read the entire ruling people! You are all (both sides) making snap judgments without getting the facts first. You have every right to like it or not, but please do your homework first!

    May 17, 2010 11:50 am at 11:50 am |
  14. castratethem

    I agree wholeheartedly with Sensible Cape Coral and have been saying it for years. Sexual offenders cannot be rehabilitated. They can have their urges brought under control if medicated, but ONLY if they continue to take their meds. If you castrate them, no urges. Taking away their rights? Oh, too bad, so sad – you've already taken away other people's rights of not having nightmares, not having issues with sexuality and relationships, etc. Castration – problem solved. Then they can be let out into society without being a worry, save the taxpayers money because they aren't still in prison, and maybe even become a contributing member of society, as well.

    Or maybe give them a choice: you can stay in jail indefinitely or be castrated.

    May 17, 2010 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  15. William, from Cali

    Who's next bank robbers ? or maybe all tax cheaters....those crooked politicans that get caught, murders, rapists......

    May 17, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  16. Maria H-Miami

    Keep sex offenders locked up permanently.

    May 17, 2010 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  17. American Patriot -- a "real" tea partier

    I have no problem with imposing the death sentence on child molesters and rapists. Let me just state that before I say what I have to next.

    If a criminal can be held beyond his sentence in this particular case, then what about other criminals with other crimes? The white collar ciminals, for instance? Where will these criminals be housed? Where is the stopping point? What's the difference between this and holding somone indefinitely without charging them with a crime that the Bush regime imposed on the public? This is a slippery slope that should not be approached.

    Also, I want to add that the court system doesn't impose strict enough or tough enough sentences on some crimes/criminals. We don't rehabilitate in jail. We punish criminals in jail. We take away their freedoms, we put them in small cells, and in a lot of cases, the system releases worst criminals back into the world. Still, once a criminal has 'paid their debt to society,' then what? Now the court can say no, you can't be released? What if this spills over to all crimes committed, even those non-violent ones?

    If the courts are going to punish criminals by not releasing them after their sentence is served, how long with Bush and his cohorts stay in Leavenworth? Will they serve an indefinite term for their crimes?

    May 17, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  18. kimberly

    Does this country need a constitution at all? I mean COME ON! YES,i FIRMLY believe in locking up sex offenders for ever,and maybe throwing away the key, BUT we MUST do it at sentencing,we can NOT allow courts to now say that when the sentence they were given in OUR COURTS is up, well forget the constitution and just keep them. This is another slap in the face of the constitution! shame on this court ruling! Whats next, if they decide after your sentence for unpaid tickets you just rot in jail??? this crosses a very dangerous line.

    May 17, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  19. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Our children and women are being savagely raped, tortured and killed by repeated sex offenders. They've had their day in court according to the Constitution, case closed.

    May 17, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |