Should Sexually Dangerous Inmates
Be Released from Prison If They
Still Pose A Threat?
In a seven-to-two vote the U.S. Supreme Court rules the federal government has the right to prevent some sex offenders from being released from prison, even after their sentences have been served.
The “civil commitment” program is available for lawmakers to prevent the release of inmates who may prove to be sexually dangerous, thereby allowing for the indefinite confinement of the offender. Under the 2006 Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act a provision exists that allows for the civil commitment.
Currently there are over 80 inmates accused of various sexual crimes, including child pornography, sexual abuse of a minor, and child sex abuse, who are being held at Butner Federal Correctional Complex just outside of Raleigh, North Carolina, and were each due to be released at least two years, or longer, ago.
One of these inmates is Graydon Comstock, a federal prisoner sentenced to only 37 months for processing child pornography. Six days prior to Comstock’s release date he was deemed sexually dangerous.
Comstock, along with three of the other inmates, filed suit arguing that Congress overstepped its power and that their continued imprisonment is a violation of their constitutional right of due process.
“The federal government, as custodian of its prisoners, has the constitutional power to act in order to protect nearby communities from the danger such prisoners may pose,” stated Justice Stephen Breyer. “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 but who may be affected by the federal imprisonment of others.”
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