The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday the federal government has the power to keep some sex offenders behind bars indefinitely 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.
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At issue was the constitutionality of federal “civil commitment” for sex offenders who are nearing the end of their confinement or who are considered too mentally incompetent to stand trial.
The main plaintiff in the case, Graydon Comstock, was certified as dangerous six days before his 37-month federal prison term for processing child pornography was to end. Comstock and the others filing suit remain confined at Butner Federal Correctional Complex near Raleigh, North Carolina.