May 17, 2010

The Supreme Court has ruled that people considered “sexually dangerous” can be held indefinitely. The SCOTUS reversed a lower court decision that said Congress overstepped its authority in allowing indefinite detentions.

The government may hold people considered “sexually dangerous” beyond their prison terms.

In 2006, president George W. Bush signed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which authorized the civil commitment of sexually dangerous federal inmates. 6 year old Adam Walsh was abducted from a Sears department store at the Hollywood Mall in Hollywood, Florida, on July 27, 1981. His father is John Walsh who later became an advocate for victims of violent crime and the host of the television program America’s Most Wanted.

“The statute is a ‘necessary and proper’ means of exercising the federal authority that permits Congress to create federal criminal laws, to punish their violation, to imprison violators, to provide appropriately for those imprisoned and to maintain the security of those who are not imprisoned by who may be affected by the federal imprisonment of others,” said Justice Stephen Breyer, writing the majority opinion.

The case went to the Supreme Court after four men who served prison terms of three to eight years for possession of child pornography or sexual abuse of a minor were not released at the end of their prison term.

Senator John McCain has introduced a bill that would allow the government to imprison an unlimited number of American citizens indefinitely without trial. The Enemy Belligerent Interrogation, Detention, and Prosecution Act of 2010, or S. 3081, has eight cosponsors and explicitly names U.S. citizens as among those who can be detained indefinitely without trial.

The Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that “No person shall … be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law,” and the Sixth Amendment requires due process of law.


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