Posted On: May 17, 2010 by Ronald V. Miller, Jr.

Sex Offenders Can Remain in Jail After Sentences

The United States Supreme Court ruled today that the government can keep some sex offenders in prison after they serve their sentences, affirming the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act that authorized the civil commitment of sexually dangerous federal prisoners.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruling, issued just minutes ago, states that the government may indefinitely imprison convicts that are found "sexually dangerous" even after their prison sentences have been completed. In the case before the court, four men who served prison terms for possession of child pornography or sexual abuse of a minor were not released at the end of their sentences.

Justice Breyer wrote for the majority in a 7-2 opinion:

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.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

I have not read the opinion or the dissents. I have no opinion of the legal issues that were discussed. In theory, prisoners ought to be released after their sentences. They have served their time. Still, I support the law and I adopt whatever legal reasoning the majority used to reach their conclusion. Because it is just not responsible to release someone who you believe essentially poses a threat to children. You just can't.

Where's Elena Kagan on this issue? Well, no one knows for sure. But she did argue the government's case in the Supreme Court.