Supreme Court okays indefinite prison for sex offenders

Here’s a law school hypothetical:  A person is convicted at trial of the offense of extortion.  He receives a sentence of 10 years.  Prior to his release from prison, however, the government decides he might very well commit another, similar offense if he is released from his sentence; so the government motions the court to have him detained in prison.  At a hearing on the motion, the government shows — by a lesser burden than “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” (the burden they must have met in order to have had him incarcerated in the first place), that he might very well commit another offense after his release.  So, the court orders him held beyond the end of his original sentence, and perhaps indefinitely, because he might similarly harm victims if he is released.  The law student would be required to respond to this hypothetical, with an analysis of whether such indefinite incarceration beyond a term of imprisonment for an offense passes constitutional muster.

The hypothetical would be an easy one to correctly answer.  Clearly, such a move on the part of the government would be violative of more than one provision in the Bill of Rights.

In fact, this hypothetical is not a hypothetical at all.  The Supreme Court of the United States, in an opinion earlier this month, confronted just such a question; except in this case, it involved a real federal statute enacted in 2006.  The High Court found, by a 7-2 majority, that of a person who has already served their term of imprisonment can be detained for an indefinite time beyond that, simply because the government shows they might commit a similar offense after release.

The particular facts of the case before the Court were different from those of my hypothetical; but the principle is the same.  The Supremes were presented with a 2006 law that permits the US Attorney General to seek to have a federal inmate convicted of certain federal sex offenses held in prison indefinitely, if the government shows he might be inclined to commit other sex offenses.

The nature of certain sex offenses make those who commit them among the most despicable of people.  State governments have wide leeway in dealing with such offenders, but the federal government does not.  Neither the Congress nor the president possess express or implied power under the Constitution to incarcerate people simply to “protect the public,” much as people might want it to do.  This was the thrust of Justice Clarence Thomas’ dissent in this latest case (in which he was joined by Justice Scalia).

Permitting the federal government to act as a national nanny and detain people without any legitimate authority to do so under the Constitution, even those who have commited despicable crimes, is offensive to the basic underpinnings of our system of federalism and limited federal government powers.  That a majority on the Supreme Court is willing to jettison those principles is deeply disturbing.

117 comments Add your comment

Conservative White Male

May 28th, 2010
6:42 am

First?

Scout better be careful then he could get locked up like a gitmo terrorist

Barr's blog

May 28th, 2010
6:49 am

Worse than the indefinite incarceration is the fact that census workers can demand access to the offender’s jail cell while surveillance cameras record his every move, and facebook informs advertisers about the guy’s personal data….and I’m pretty sure the offender can’t own firearms in jail,

but he does get conjugal visits and if history is any indication, one of the census workers will fall in love with him and he’ll get married in prison. (”He’s a kind, gentle man, who’s misunderstood…”)

at taxpayer’s expense.

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
7:02 am

here’s a hypothethical answer. ALL “rights” are hypothetical (situational). a citizen who has commited no crime is falsely accused of domestic violence by a spouse seeking divorce. sherrif’s deputies come to the person’s home and remove all firearms (2nd amendment), and this law-abiding citizen with a not so much as a parking ticket cannot get a concealed weapons permit until the bogus charges are dismissed. here’s another one. it’s Janauary 1942. the Japanese have just bombed Pearl Harbor. President FDR signs an Executive Order, which strips Japanese-Americans (many native American citizens born in the United States) of their personal property AND anything close to “due process” (4th amendment?) or “equal protection” (14th amendment) and ships them to de facto prison camps. again, these American citizens only “crime” is to be of Japanese decent. I could comment on the 1st amendment (”hate speech” laws) as well. ALL laws (which bestow) rights exist to protect property or wealth. seems to me a convicted sex-offender has used up all his/her bullets. I know our court system is rigged (wealth buys acquittals), but most of the time, sex offenders are rightfully convicted, and as far as I am concerned, rape, child molestation, etc. is a “one and you’re done” deal. life sentence, no parole, and if you want to voluntarily commit suicide (a last act of redemption and contrition), we’ll note it in your obit. Americans need to realize the idea of “rights” or “freedom” is a myth, or at best a very subjective and very carefully regulated commodity. it is bought and sold with our blood and our treasure, but it is controled by others. and one more thing, just because a “right” was part of the original Bill of Rights, why is is sacrosanct? I believe the 5th amendment is a joke. “self-incrimination” occurs when a person commits a crime, not in a court room. ALL defendents should be required to testify and be subject to cross examination.

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
7:06 am

Barr’s blog, if both the sex offender and the census worker are he same gender, they cannot get married in all 50 states (

Charlie Phillips

May 28th, 2010
7:08 am

This decision, along with Kelo and a few others, makes it crystal clear that the Constitution is in real trouble in our nation.
Patrick Henry said “The Constitution is not an instrument for the government to restrain the people, it is an instrument for the people to restrain the government — lest it come to dominate our lives and interests.”
For our Supreme court to interpret the law in this way demonstrates their complete lack of understanding of such simple concepts as “individual” rights. The government does not give us our rights, nor do they have the power to take those rights away… until NOW!

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
7:13 am

Charlie, Patrick Henry’s observations, were at best “hypothetical”. We all know a hypothesis is an “educated guess” or theory which is unproved. At the time the Constitution was a mere “unproved idea” and I think history shows us, his worst fears were realized (the government uses the power of freedom to control us). I’d better stop this subversive rant, lest the NSA or CIA send Jack Bauer to my home to shoot me in the kneecap.

Charlie Phillips

May 28th, 2010
7:27 am

@ neo-Carlinist ~ To you, it appears, everything is hypothetical… including our rights, our founding documents and the role of government. I would submit to you that your observations are nothing more than a hypothesis, which cannot be proven or disproven and your hypothetical scenario of government agents coming to shoot you is perfectly acceptable within your ideological and philosophical views. After all, the Creator God who endowed you with your rights is just hypothetical, therefore you have no rights, and the men with guns can do what they want.

Karen

May 28th, 2010
7:28 am

Sorry Bob, save your outrage for some other group deserving of second chances–not violent, incorrigible sex offenders prone to re-offend.

They don’t need your pity nor your protection. Why don’t you try protecting potential victims instead?

Jethro

May 28th, 2010
7:33 am

Quite the conundrum. On the one hand, the person who committed the crime served his time; he fulfilled his obligation to the sentencing authority. On the other hand, the crime for which he was convicted was a trespass against a minor who, the law recognizes, is not as capable of protecting himself as an adult would be under similar circumstances.

True, the court cannot legitimately foresee the criminals intent to commit another crime. However, because of the nature of these crimes, the law also cannot assume that a potential victim would have the wherewithal to defend himself. A 9 year old girl would not be able to fend for herself against a sexual predator as would a 21 year old girl. While government is not a nanny, government does have an obligation to protect it’s citizens (promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty).

Quite the conundrum indeed.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

May 28th, 2010
7:40 am

Good morning all. I think the 7-2 ruling is oddly inconsistent with the juvenile “cruel and unusual punishment” rulings of the past couple of years. The court’s deference on the Federal sex crimes strikes me as more obnoxious than the judgments overruling harsh state treatment of violent criminals; if anything I think they got both rulings backwards. I suspect this current 7-2 probably reflects the likely result of proposed Congressional action stripping American citizens of citizenship for “terrorist” acts. Seemingly Scalia and Thomas are the only ones who consistently get it right.

bob

May 28th, 2010
7:41 am

Spell check the link on the main page “prision”

Scout

May 28th, 2010
7:45 am

Conservative White Male :

LOL !

Seriously, this is why we need the death penalty for serious crimes more than ever !!!

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
7:50 am

Charlie, I would not disagree with you, because as my mentor George Carlin pointed out in 2007 (check it out on YouTube sometime); each nation has a different number of “rights” bestowed upon it by different “gods”. This chat is probably more existential or philosophical (hypothetical) and Constitutional. My point is, Patrick Henry’s fears have been realized in that the Constitution has “empowered” the government to regulate and barter “rights” to serve its own needs (power, control, taxation), as opposed to We the People. the only truly free society is one of anarchy, and rights do not exist in such a a society. Freedom exists, but if I am free to kill or steal from you, you have no rights. You are free to defend yourself, or counter-attack, but this is “survival” a right? Americans have foolishly assumed that “rights” and “freedom” mean the same thing. When a rattlesnake kills a mouse, or a hawk grabs a squirrel, this is true freedom, and “rights” have nothing to do with it. The earluy pioneers were “free” to head west and live or die (indians, disease, natural disasters), but who gave them the “right” to take land from the Apache, Navajo and Souix? Their “Creator”? What “the Great Spirity” who created the Souix, Navajo and Comanche? I am not a Christian, but when I was, I was lead to believe the same “Creator” created us all, which means those settlers believe they were “more endowed” than the Native Americans. I’ve said this many times, I think we have a pretty good deal here in the USA; better than most, but we do not enjoy “freedom” and ironically, it is the Bill of Rights that has put conditions on our freedom, as opposed to granting freedom (see: “men with guns” – or in some instances, Court Orders).

Really

May 28th, 2010
7:50 am

Karen, do you understand precedent? Put another way, Karen. Let’s say fifty years from now your posterity has a case pending before the Supreme Court and clearly your posterity is due redress from the court, but due to precedent your prosterity is told in so many words public fears trump his/her rights.

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
8:08 am

Really, You must be an attorney (not that there’s anything wrong with it). the very concept of “precedent” demonstrates that all laws/rights are hypothetical or subject to modification/change. It’s a shell game. Politicians and lawyers exist to change the rules as the game progresses. Again, as George Carlin pointed out, the Constitution was so well thought out, it has been amended (modified) 27 times. And actually, “private fears” (as in the private sector business interests) do “trump” our rights (see: Patriot Act, see Bush Doctrine of Pre-emptive War, see: Japanese Internment Camps 1942-1945, etc.). The government (Charlie’s “men with guns”) has the power to excercise ITS rights. Does a sex offender have “the right” to assault or molest another person? They certainly have “precedent” (it’s been done before).

nelsonhoward

May 28th, 2010
8:11 am

The federal government does not have the right to civilly commit prisoners beyond their period of sentence. In U.S. v Comstock, 5 prisoners challenged their detention under the civil commitment provisions.

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
8:21 am

oh, and one more thing; where do “freedom” and “rights” come into play when a convicted rapist is acquitted because of DNA evidence, 10 or 15 years after the conviction (and he has spent 10-15 years in State Prison)? who gave the government “the right” to wrongfully accuse an innocent man of rape? a cornerstone of “freedom” is honesty, and PEOPLE LIE ALL THE TIME (especially in court, or when legal tender is involved). In order for Americans to enjoy true freedom, Ronald Regan would have said “we did trade arms for hostages”. Bill Clinton would have said; “…I DID have sex with that woman…” Dick Cheney would have said; “…I told Scooter Libby to burn Valerie Plame’s CIA cover because her husband wrote an editorial critical of our plan to invade Iraq…” Heck, 50% of marriages in this country end in divorce because one spouse or another lies when he/she says “I do”. The question I always ask is not whether or not we have “rights” or whether or not we are “free”. The question I have is; did the Founding Fathers rig the deck from day one, or is the current mess simply a case of human nature (self-serving, dishonest, duplicitous) manifesting itself in our political ownership class, who at some point between 1790 and 2010, learned to “game” the system?

Bye Bye Constitution

May 28th, 2010
8:22 am

This is truly unbelievable. While the crimes committed by sex offenders are horrible, the fact that the SC has ruled the government can hold someone beyond their time served because they might commit that crime again is a blatant violation of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. As BB pointed out, this is not about sex offenders, it is about the government’s ability to imprison without cause. What would be next: we will hold you indefinatley since you got in a fist fight and might commit murder in the future. This sets a horrible legal precedent and it appears we now need an additional “check and balance” on the Supreme Court. Our founding fathers are rolling in their graves.

DW

May 28th, 2010
8:27 am

This is just plain wrong reguardless of the offense

Hillbilly Deluxe

May 28th, 2010
8:28 am

Change the law to make it a life sentence and the problem is solved. When a person has done their time, you have to let them out. This is a question for the Legislative branch, not the Judicial branch.

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
8:38 am

DW, hate to whip a dead horse, but the fact that the Supreme Court (dissenters aside) believes certain crimes require a “Mulligan” when it comes to sentencing, suggests to me; the first rule is there are no rules. Heck, Roman Polanski thinks he has the right to be a “sexual predator”. Good thing he’s not on the SCOTUS. Rand Paul is taking flack for his interpretation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act; as if the “men with guns” have the right to tell a business owner how to run his business – and I am not talking about government run schools, or office buildings, or organizations – I am talking about some cracker in EBF who runs a gin joint or beanery; or some habedashery on Rodeo Drive. Class assignment. Everyone go to Alpharetta Highway and ask to test drive a Ferrari. Let’s see how many folks are “discriminated” against because of credit score, net worth, or employment status.

Bye Bye Constitution

May 28th, 2010
8:42 am

Neo

Your assuming that what the Supreme Court “believes” is law vs. the Constitution being the Supreme Law…..The Supreme Court can be wrong…

itpdude

May 28th, 2010
8:42 am

I know there are studies out there stating it is impossible to reform a sex offender. Maybe that is the rationale, however, it does seem awfully un-American to incarcerate someone for an offense they have yet to commit.

Can we expect males from the ages of 16-24 to be incarcerated because they are the most likely segment of society to commit a crime next? How about black males of that age group? Can we incarcerate them for crimes not yet committed?

It’s surprising the decision was agreed upon by 7 Justices. Sad, too.

Bye Bye Constitution

May 28th, 2010
8:44 am

Neo…

Also credit score, net worth, and employment status are not part of the protected classes when it comes to discrimination….

Really

May 28th, 2010
8:45 am

neo-Carlinist, I too am a Carlin fan. I see you do not lean left nor right but you gravitate toward rational. Conservatives are now screaming the latest pick for SCOTUS is too liberal because she clerked for Thurgood Marshall who said the Constitution was imperfect. As you so eloquently alluded to in your post- amended and amended. Not a lawyer-did major in Criminal Justice and attended law school briefly but became a pot head.

Jethro

May 28th, 2010
8:46 am

Actually, the Constitution has only been amended 17 times. The first 10 were original.

TGL

May 28th, 2010
8:46 am

What? I don’t understand. They are opening doors for some sexual deviants and locking others away. It is okay to be gay, but not a pedophile. You know gays and pedophiles say the exact same thing… “I can’t help it. It is just the way I was made. Do you think I would choose this lifestyle.” Heck, if you are going to open the door for some pervs, then you need to open the door for all!

TGL

May 28th, 2010
8:47 am

End discrimination against pedophiles, NOW!

DW

May 28th, 2010
8:48 am

Youre a smart guy BYE BYE. The fact that people are okay with the govt keeping people in jail for something they havent even done yet is sickening.

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
8:49 am

Bye Bye Constitution, see my convicted/acuitted of rape hypothesis. see my 1942 executive order comments. THE GOVERNMENT HAS ALWAYS HAD THE POWER (not the right, the power) TO HOLD PEOPLE INDEFININATELY. they’re just really good at not abusing it (the government is really good at urinating on Americans and telling us it is raining). most of the time we’re “bought off” with the BCS Championship, American Idol or the beauty contest held every four years to determine who lives in the White House, but when push comes to shove power does what it wants to meet its own needs, and it needs more power. This isn’t a novel concept; Thomas Paine “figgered” it out before we even had a Republic.

The Thin Guy

May 28th, 2010
8:53 am

One way to cut down on the number of sex offenders is to eliminate some of the sex crimes. What a person does in the privacy of his own home with his/her own computer is his/her business. There are no virtual victims. A government that can put you in prison for viewing naked people on your pc can also put you in prison for viewing political web sites. We need to end using law enforcement officials going onto internet chat rooms pretending to be teenage girls desperately seeking sex with old men. There are plenty of crimes that they can be working on instead of entrapping people dumb enough to believe that the internet will provide them with companionship. End victimless crimes.

TGL

May 28th, 2010
8:53 am

Let pedophiles serve openly in the military! (That might solve a lot of problems, actually.)

TGL

May 28th, 2010
8:55 am

Right on Thin Guy, I do love those teenage girls. It is just the way I was made. I can’t help it!

TGL

May 28th, 2010
8:56 am

I would never choose this lifestyle. Who would? Who would chose a lifestyle of ridicule?

DW

May 28th, 2010
8:58 am

Thin guy, reminds me of the saying “no harm, no foul”

rdh

May 28th, 2010
9:00 am

It’s tough. It’s similar to not allowing convicted felons who have served their time to purchase guns. Or, individuals who have any record whatsoever to carry a weapon. If you have served your time and paid your debt to society, you SHOULD get your full rights restored…. else the sentence should have been longer/different.

Sex crimes are not typical crime-and-punishment crimes. There is no way to know the intent of the the ex-con, and they have been proven to commit further crimes at a high rate (about 40%), though only about 3% were sexually related. Still, that means if you let 10,000 child molesters out of jail, 300 children will be molested within 3 years… and (probably) many more go unreported. A lot of study has gone into predicting recidivism of sex offenders, and some studies show an extremely high rate of recidivism among certain classes of offenders (violent, offenses against the very young, offenses, etc). These predators are almost certain to commit offenses again.

It is tough when we have to balance the rights of “one innocent man” against the extremely high probability that they will commit a new sexual crime. Thus, we are balancing the rights of one or two innocent men (who would not commit again) against the 8 or 9 predators and their 9+ victims (they often commit new offenses against more than one victim).

I am sorry for the 10 or 20% of predators who will not perp again, but I have to side with the victims left in the wake of the other 80%.

Mr. Grumpy

May 28th, 2010
9:07 am

Man, I didn’t realize we had all these experts on interpreting the U.S. Constitution. I also find it interesting (if a bit confusing) that some of you so-called conservatives all of a sudden believe there’s some horrible violation of the Fourth Amendment’s Due Process Clause because a court can extend a term of incarceration on a U.S. citizen because he/she MIGHT re-offend. Barr’s analogy of the embezzler is a bit of a stretch since I’ve never seen any research which indicates that embezzlers, as a group, have a compulsion to re-offend. There is, hoever, a large body of research that shows clearly that sex offenders (especially chjild molesters and serial rapists) do re-offend.

In addition, civil commitments of U.S. citizens have been happening for many, many years, and especially to prisoners committed to mental institutions as they approach the end of their prison sentences. Where’s the outrage by conservatives with that group. All the state has to do is present medical testimony that the prisoner presents a threat to himself “or others” if he’s released from confinement, and he’ll get a free trip to confinement in a facility that will “treat” him for his “illness.” Happens in Georgia all the time.

TGL

May 28th, 2010
9:09 am

Mr. Grumpy, you sure are grumpy. Being a lib, can you get on my ‘Pedophiles have rights too’ bandwagon. I am not getting a lot of support. Are you going to discriminate against me? If so, you are a bigot! I did not choose this lifestyle. It is just the way I was made.

rdh

May 28th, 2010
9:10 am

BTW, there are a lot of studies on this:

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=predicting+recidivism+of+sexual+predators&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart

Look at page 78 of this study using Static-99:

http://www.annasalter.com/shows/show23.pdf

That is an eventual 90% rate for high risk offenders. You let one of these guys out and there is a 90% chance that he will commit a sexual offense again. This is a guy that can never be put into society again.

TGL

May 28th, 2010
9:11 am

We need to send someone to scan Thin Guy’s computer ;) .

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
9:13 am

Really, and how about your “right” to smoke pot? In some states, if you raise your hand and ask politely (prescription from a M.D.), you have the right to smoke pot, but in others, the Government has the right to just say “no”. you are an example that we all have the freedom to smoke weed, but the government has the right to criminalize this “freedom”. Re: pedophiles – they prey on minors, who actually have no rights, so the government assumes the “right” to protect them and ensure their “best interests” are served; what about two consenting adults who wish to get married? In some states same sex couples can marry, but in other states they cannot. In some states, the “state” recognizes a “civil union” (bestowing the same rights as heterosexual civil unions), but does not refer to the union as a “marriage”. and for all the Constitutional purists, is marriage or sexuality even mentioned in the Constitution? If a Christian, Jew, Muslim or Wiccan wants to get “married” it is between the couple and whatever god – or rock they worship. But where in the Constitution does the government assume the authority (right) to endorse some relationship, but not others? Again, 14th amendment comes to mind. The government has no more right or authority to make a white supremicist “like” Mexicans, Negroes and Asians, than it does the power to force homosexual men to “like” women, or lesbians to favor heterosexual men.

TGL

May 28th, 2010
9:17 am

The government has no more right or authority to make a white supremicist “like” Mexicans, Negroes and Asians, than it does the power to force homosexual men to “like” women, or lesbians to favor heterosexual men.

YOU are exactly right.

Mr. Grumpy

May 28th, 2010
9:19 am

TGL–IF you are TRULY a pedophile and you think it’s oaky to have sex with little girls or little boys, do us all a favor. Jump off the top of the Peachtree Plaza Hotel, and try not to hit anyone on the way down. When it comes to protecting children from perverted adults, I proudly stand before you as a bigot who would consider it a duty and, in deed, an honor to discrminate against you. Where is it written in any history of any culture that adults have “a right” to engage in sexual acts with children?

Really

May 28th, 2010
9:29 am

neo-Carlinist, my smoking pot and dropping out of law school happened over thirty years ago, and I no longer indulge. I don’t see your need to lecture me. I believe my point in my last post was to let you know that we are basically in agreement, although you are basically being philosophical for the sake of being philosophical.

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
9:33 am

Mr. Grumpy, I am with you in my opinion of pedofiles, but history is full of examples of adults who believe they have the right to have sex with children. Way back when, we could look at the Greeks. Fast forward to Victorian England. Google: Oscar Wilde – “rent boy”. Want examples a little closer to home? Remember the case of the Fundamentalist Mormans in Texas? Their “culture” endorsed “spiritual marriages” between adult males and minor teenage girls. If I really want to be a wise-a** let’s look at the Vatican/Catholic church. I mentioned Roman Polanski, who defiantly claimed that the judge in his case was merely upset because he could not have sex with a 14 year-old (and there is a sub-culture in Hollywood and the US that supports him). Again, I do not belive pedofiles have the “right” to have sex with minors, and I’d lock them up and throw away the key, but many cultures thoughout history have different standards when it comes to the “age of consent” or when a female becomes an “adult”. Again, I am not defending these cultures, or their ‘rights’, but they certainly exist

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
9:36 am

Really, I was not attempting to lecture. Sorry for the misunderstanding.

spf15

May 28th, 2010
9:38 am

I’m not a lawyer, but at least according to the following editorial, the decision declined to rule on the specifics that Mr Barr is objecting to: http://articles.latimes.com/2010/may/25/opinion/la-ed-offenders-20100525

quoting from that editorial:
“Whether sex offenders can be detained even after they have completed their sentences is an important question that pits individual rights against public safety. But when the Supreme Court ruled last week on a federal law allowing such confinement, it didn’t address that basic issue. It should do so in a future case” … ” In his majority opinion, Justice Stephen G. Breyer noted that the court failed to address the issue of whether the statute violated prisoners’ constitutional rights by requiring that they be held indefinitely even after they had served their criminal sentences.”

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
9:39 am

well, I was lecturing everyone else. I don’t think I was being phiolosphical for the sake of being philosophical. I was trying to demonstrate (via your example) that rights and freedoms are not the same.

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
9:55 am

AND, if the SCOTUS believes “public safety” trumps “individual rights” then we are not free and there are no individual rights (if they can be abridged by the State). again, we still might have a better deal than most, but let’s all admit that maybe Ben Franklin’s doomsday scenario (those who would trade freedom for security deserve neither) was unavoidable and it is not possible to have a “secure” and “free” society. this case speaks to the very nature of “public safety” and whether or not security is the responsibility of the government or the individual? for example, if my child (minor) is assaulted by an adult, I would think I have not only the right, but the obligation to kill the sexual predator. not only would this serve my individual need for justice, but I would be furthering “public safety”. but we live in a country where I’d have to dial 911, wait 10 minutes, explain the situation to an operator, who would dispatch a police officer, who will take a statement and file a report, which would be grabbed from a pile of reports by an investigator, who will pursue leads and hopefully aprehend and charge the predator, who would be read his Miranda rights, provided a free (well, not to taxpayers) attorney, who would bill hundreds of hours “vigorously defending” his/her client, who may or may not be convicted, so after all of this, the administration or meting out of “justice” has nothing to do with freedom, or the Constitution, even the guilt or innocence of the accused. Is it not odd that the State enjoys the “right” and “freedom” to muck up the process (wrongful convictions, and Ray Lewis case acquittals), but John Q. Public cannot?

Bye Bye Constitution

May 28th, 2010
9:57 am

Neo—you are wrong. The government has never HAD the power to hold anybody indefinatley. The POWER that the government has or doesn’t have is GIVEN to them by the CONSTITUTION and the people. They may choose to do something that they don’t have the right to do, but that does give them the power to do it. Just like a criminal might chose to break the law, that does not give them the right to do it. The federal government has no de facto power. It is all derived from the CONSTITUTION.

retiredds

May 28th, 2010
10:03 am

I have enjoyed reading the many blogs, especially Neo-Carlinist. What I find amusing is that Mr. Barr does not seem interested in joining one of the better conversations on “his” blog.

Bye Bye Constitution

May 28th, 2010
10:10 am

does not give them

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
10:17 am

Bye Bye, hypothetically speaking (pun intended). It’s been 30 years since took a History of the Constitution course in college, and excuse me if I am being philosphical for the sake of being philosophical but the Federal Government has repeatedly demonstrated it’s “de facto” (internment camps, recent SCOTUS ruling, maybe even the draft) right to detain, regardless of whether or not it has the de jure (law) right to do so. Again, excuse the “Animal House/smoking pot in the professor’s bathroom” reference, but if “freedom” (detention, second amendment, speech) is conditional (criminal record, “fire in a crowded movie house”, time of war), it’s not freedom maybe we need to all agree that whatever rights exist, are NOT “inalienable”, or “bestowed by a Creator”, they are; temporary, and subject to the prevailing political winds, or the whims of a handful of politicians and judges (who are ultimately OWNED by special interests, and do not represent We the People). I can live with that.

TGL

May 28th, 2010
10:20 am

neo, Don’t forget Mohammad the pedophile. Mr. Grumpy, what about cultures in India or arranged marriages in Europe/USA until the 1900’s? Also, one could argue from an evolutionary standpoint that men are going to be naturally attracted to the most fertile. Thus, a blossoming young teen should be free game, right?

However, the thought of molesting a child sickens me. I am merely commenting on the acceptance of some sexual deviants (homosexuals) and the bashing of others. I would include adulterers in the sexual deviant category also.

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
10:28 am

excuse me folks, I live in GA. I do not enjoy the freedom to by fermented malt beverages or distilled spirits on Sundays, so I am off to Kroger and the liquor store. I guess Sonny Perdue et al see this as a very important “public safety” issue. Does the 1964 Civil Rights Act discuss beer-drinkers rights vis-a-vis teetotalers? doesn’t Sonny know the first “taxes” levied in the young Republic were levied on whiskey?

Bye Bye Constitution

May 28th, 2010
10:33 am

neo—I understand what you are saying. I am saying they don’t have the power to do it, even if they are. If we as a society ignore and lay down instead of calling them (govt) on it (abuse or out-of-bounds with their power grabs) then we are doomed as a society.

nice chat and good day my friend

Tricky

May 28th, 2010
10:35 am

No one really cares about sex offenders. But which group will be next?

DW

May 28th, 2010
11:36 am

Anybody here ever see that movie “Minority report” with tom cruise where the police arrest people BEFORE they commit a crime? Kinda reminds me of this topic except our govt cannot currently predict the future but will instead lock people up before they MIGHT do something to further themselves politically..

Bob LeBlah

May 28th, 2010
12:09 pm

Mentally ill patients are incarcerated indefinitely. People that are sick enough to commit disgusting sex crimes can rest in the bottom of a well for all I care.

Will

May 28th, 2010
12:15 pm

When you say sex offender, are you talking about a person who violates a child or just underage like 17. I know some of you can not see the difference but there is a difference. I say if it is a child 14 or younger then execute them. Unless it is a woman molesting a boy. I am one of those who believe there is a difference between a young boy having a sexual experience and a young girl who is being raped.

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
12:39 pm

Will, take sex out of it. What is “the age of consent” for a hunting license? back in the day, I doubt some sodbuster in Kansas worried about teaching his eight or nine year-old the art of hunting jackrabbits or quail. Same with the consumption of alcohol. Muslims and many Christians will not drink at any age, whereas I know families who allow children under the age of 21 (some as young as 10) to have a small glass of wine with Sunday dinner. And more often than not, these children grow up to become healthy (non-alcoholic) adults. The “conditions” which determine when a rape occurs or when a person is molested cannot be a matter of gender. The age of consent (in a particular state, or a particular culture), and whether or not the sex is consentual (”no means no”) is the rule of thumb. I am sure everyone from GA/ATL remembers the Genarlo Wilson case. Does your gender-specific rule apply to taxes, speeding tickets or armed robberies (if a male robs a female, it is a crime, but not the other way around)?

retiredds

May 28th, 2010
12:53 pm

Neo, Bob Barr is the king when it comes to slamming the nanny government, but I have never seen him slam Sonny over the “father knows best” dictum that “thou shalt not buy “likker” on Sundays as long as I’m governor. I guess the shoe doesn’t fit in Barr’s worldview.

Ron Reddon

May 28th, 2010
12:56 pm

This type of indeterminate incarceration law can be traced right back to the sentence mitigationist philosophies of correctional agencies, judicial systems and governments.

“Smoke a joint, then rape a woman or a kid, you aren’t really responsible for your actions.” It’s the drugs. Or maybe your Mommy didn’t bake you cookies when you got home from school one day when you were 9 years old. You get treatment, and a large chunk taken off your sentence if you complete your 12 Steps or group therapy. This type of mitigationist correctional philosophy is also why we have repressive drug laws and draconian gun laws in this nation, that punish those who have harmed nobody, yet still get punished for the actions of the few who commit crimes against others.

Once definitive sentencing guidelines for a crime were diminished or blurred by sentence mitigationist philosophies like “treatment,” “community alternatives,” “early parole” etc., that set up the expected community response of supporting indeterminate incarceration, for individuals most likely to commit crimes while out on those sentence mitigationist alternatives to definite, flat-time incarceration periods.

As long as the sentence mitigationist believers are in control of penal philosophy in this nation, then we can expect less freedom for society as a whole, and more indefinite incarcerations for various types of offenders.

kimmer

May 28th, 2010
1:30 pm

I don’t know this for fact but I expect sex criminals, out of all types of lawbreakers, are probably the most likely to re-offend because the motivation for their crimes are sexual gratification which we all know is a very powerful drive. Also, the victims of sexual abuse are often the most vulnerable and innocent among us resulting in really hideous crimes. Then we also have our Constitution that is the basis of our freedom and must be protected. The answer? Elementary my dear Watson. Create very long prison sentences for sex offenders and hand em out. Along with this come up with a parole system based upon evaluation of the perps likelihood to be an ongoing threat to society and voila! You have a constitutional means to keep sex offenders where they belong for a very long time with the means to evaluate and parole those who are unlikely to re-offend.

Another way to manage this is to offer voluntary castration in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Waynetryingtomoveon

May 28th, 2010
1:34 pm

In 1990 I pled guilty to 2 counts of adult date rape. There were no weapons or “physical violence” involve. Nor did it involve minors in any form or fashion. I was self-centered, used to getting what I wanted, and let my values deteriorate for a while. I was given a 15 year sentence by a woman judge who heard all of the facts and “Split” my sentence, having me serve 3 years with the rest suspended with probation. I did well while locked up and then got out. I stayed out for 3 years, then received the only DUI of my life in 1995. That DUI resulted in my probation being revoked And I was sent back to prison, where I was denied parole after parole. I ended up serving my remaining sentence in full, and was released in Aug. 2007. I haven’t been in any kind of trouble since. My neighbors like and respect me, because they got to know me and see how I lead my life. But my gripe is that I have to be lumped in the same category as the worst type of child-molester. My life is very restricted by the sex- offender banner inked in red on my driver license. My record is over 20 years in the past. Will laws ever change to give a person who fully completed his or her sentence to be able to move on in this world? I believe in protecting children, and would stand up for a child or woman who was being harmed. But the stigma of what I did over 20 years ago will seemingly hang over me forever. God Bless America.

JamesInGA

May 28th, 2010
1:41 pm

I don’t condone sex offenders but that isn’t the issue here people. If we as a society want sex offenders jailed indefinitely then our elected officials need to put that punishment on the books as the sentence for the crime. It’s not okay for the government to circumvent due process and change the rules in the middle of the game. Today it’s sex offenders, tomorrow, who knows, it could be traffic tickets. Laugh all you want but I bet most of the people that agree with this ruling are conservative Republicans…I’ll call you RINOs because this is clearly government pushing aside the rights granted to ALL citizens (yes, even criminals) by the Constitution. It’s like the PATRIOT Act…big cheers for it from the far right when Bush was in charge but now that Obama is in charge they don;t like it anymore. You can’t have it both ways. Think of this as yet another back door and precedent for the government to trample all over OUR rights. Did none of you take simple civics classes in middle school? (For the record I’m Libertarian.)

Henny

May 28th, 2010
1:44 pm

People convicted of sex offenses are already sentenced to lifetime punishment. Perhaps the death penalty would be the most merciful punishment for them.

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
1:46 pm

it’s real pickle, isn’t it? this nation was founded and settled by risk takers and libertarians, but as we have grown, for whatever reason (we’ll set the socioligists ponder the question), a co-dependent relationship developed. sure Ayn Rand and the faux Libertarians of the world will yammer about “rugged individualists” but since we hit California and whupped the injuns (with the help of the Nanny state’s Army), the path to success is not individual (you gotta bribe/lobby the right bureacrat to do it on your own, anymore). I guess I have walked into my own ambush here, but when I look at 75%-80% of John and Joan Q. Public, I say to myself; “…this person NEEDS a nanny…” I suppose we can debate the merits of having the state be the nanny, as opposed to private sector baby-sitters, but I think the gub-ment kinda likes changing diapers (for a fee), wiping runny noses, and serving milk and cookies.

JamesInGA

May 28th, 2010
1:47 pm

One more thing…if you engage in oral sex with your wife/husband in the privacy of your own home than YOU are a sex offender in the eyes of the State of Georgia. Don’t believe me? Look up the sodomy laws. So if you engage in oral sex with your spouse and get busted by the cops should the government be able to lock YOU up indefinitely? I bet you would say no, but this is indeed the slope down which we are sliding. And it IS very arbitrary…if you confront a puritanical judge or worse a hypocrite like Sen. Larry Craig you better believe they will make an example out of you too!

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
1:53 pm

JamesInGA, I believe the sodomy law was overturned in 1999 or 2000. There may still be a fornication (minors having sex) and possibly even adultery (sex with a married person), but I’m pretty sure sodomy is considered legal between consenting adults (in GA)

Marco

May 28th, 2010
2:00 pm

Mark, if I were you, I would move to another country. Not trying to be a smart aleck, I would. It’s probably the only opportunity to truly start over. Sad but true.

DW

May 28th, 2010
2:17 pm

Good call JamesinGA. This is alarming

JamesInGA

May 28th, 2010
2:34 pm

GEORGIA CODE
Copyright 2009 by The State of Georgia
All rights reserved.

*** Current through the 2009 Regular Session ***

TITLE 16. CRIMES AND OFFENSES
CHAPTER 6. SEXUAL OFFENSES

O.C.G.A. § 16-6-2 (2009)

§ 16-6-2. Sodomy; aggravated sodomy; medical expenses

(a) (1) A person commits the offense of sodomy when he or she performs or submits to any sexual act involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another.

nelsonhoward

May 28th, 2010
3:06 pm

Did you know Georgia corn is sold in New York. I could hardly believe my eyes. What is Georgia corn doing so far from home? I am a great believer in each state growing their own corn. Same true with the law, each state should have their own laws. There is general consensus that the Supreme Court is infalible because they are final. Let us say that a decision of a lower court is overturned on appeal to the Supreme Court. There should be an infinite opportunity to appeal cases. That way we are assuring every citizen the opportunity to keep his case going as long as they want to.

Common Sense

May 28th, 2010
3:09 pm

We live in a complicated world. In order to find the best solution to a problem, sometimes the answer isn’t in a law students text book or in the bill of rights written many many years ago. Sometimes we have to use the right & left part of our brain in order to come up with a pragmatic solution. This recent supreme court opinion is such an instance. Oh yeah, there would be more room for sex offenders in our prison system if certain ‘drugs’ that millions of americans take weren’t outlawed while other more harmful drugs are not only leagal but marketed to us constantly by profit hungry big money lobby corporations…but that’s another issue…..

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
3:25 pm

JamesInGA, I assumed “aggravated” (non-consenual) sodomy is still a crime, but I guess I am going to reverse myself again and plead the 5th Amendment. I guess “Nanny” is alive and well in GA.

Common Sense

May 28th, 2010
3:30 pm

If I see one more blogger or TV show host holding up our founding fathers and lawmakers, justices, ect as soem kind of all knowing profits that we are to blindly follow no matter what the issue i’m gonna scream. Granted the FF’s were great men for their vision and insight, but can’t we come up with our own ideas? have original thoughts?

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
3:42 pm

Common Sense, blind faith is not faith in my book. I have long believed we need to update the Constitution. The original document was drafted in a time when the border did not extend beyond the Mississippi River, communication was limited and slavery was legal. Most importantly, there were slightly less than 300 million Americans. Prostitution was legal, and there were no “illegal” drugs. There was no Federal Reserve, and no internal combustion engine (dependence on oil) or nuclear power. No laptops, air travel or the technology to record sound/images (wiretaps and surveilance cameras). If the Consitution is a “living document” it needs some steroids or HGH because it has not grown as the same pace the nation (or the world) has grown. They were some “revolutionary” thinkers, but as you say, none of ‘em could create an operating system, drive an automobile or listen send a “text message”.

Jim Philips

May 28th, 2010
5:07 pm

The Genarlow Wilson case should have taught us something about the shaky classification of “sex offender”. He was about to go on the registry for life merely for receiving consensual oral sex from a teen-aged girl a couple of years younger than him. Clearly, we need strong protection against adult predators who stalk children. But the legal lines need to be very tightly drawn. Life imprisonment needs to be an option in certain clearly defined cases. But the idea of simply holding prisoners after they qualify for release goes against every legal principle that made this nation free.

Rational Person

May 28th, 2010
10:08 pm

It took a day or two, but Bob’s previous column is now debunked at http://factcheck.org/2010/05/more-census-nonsense/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=facebook

It’s under the heading “Bob Barr’s bunk.”

Barr's blog

May 29th, 2010
6:12 am

Bob Bar is ……RIGHT! The sex laws have been a tool for not just big brother to abuse rights, but for my wife. Like take the sodomy laws. My wife made a deal with the DA and ratted me out. She sang like a canary. In my case, I never doubted for a moment who Deepthroat was. The danger, in this case, was not so much 1984 as ‘69.

Morrus

May 29th, 2010
7:10 am

Curiously, in a supposed anti-incumbent year, most of the departing are not retiring but seeking higher office. We may recycle more than we replace. The bad news is that a frustrating 114 seats still have but one contestant. Two of them aren’t even incumbents, meaning they will affect state policy without being vetted by voters. And I have to think that we’d be better off if many had run instead for the Legislature — and cut down on the number running unopposed. Georgia’s problems are numerous. They aren’t going away. There’s too much stale thinking at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle. New voices would be welcome.

david wayne osedach

May 29th, 2010
7:47 am

The only problem I see here is just how much is going to cost states to house most sex offenders for life? California can barely afford to house murderers.

Joel Dockery

May 29th, 2010
8:04 am

This isn’t about sex offenders. This is about the tendency of governments to do what they can get by with rather than what they should do. This ruling doesn’t just affect sex offenders, it affects YOU. If someone can be locked up for a crime they haven’t committed then there is NO LIMIT. The requirement that a person be convicted of a crime previously makes NO DIFFERENCE and will be legislated or argued out of existence. Even if the previous conviction requirement is upheld it really isn’t difficult to catch someone in a crime (or fabricate one) and imprison them indefinitely for saying unpopular things or being part of an unpopular group.
The problem with witch hunts is that WE ALL LOSE.

Liver Lip

May 29th, 2010
8:09 am

GOOD……………..

Joel Dockery

May 29th, 2010
8:38 am

For the record, the government has the power to do anything physically possible AS LONG AS WE PUT UP WITH IT.

Ted Striker

May 29th, 2010
8:41 am

Bob, you are right on point. If Patrick Henry or Thomas Jefferson or any number of well-respected American patriots were alive today, they’d probably be up in arms over miscarriages of justice such as this.

independent

May 29th, 2010
9:02 am

Contrary to most people’s beliefs, a brief review of web-sourced research documenting sex offender recidivism rates, showed a rate not unlike that of other crimes. Why do s0 many believe that everyone except sex offenders have constitutional rights? The media’s shock-jock sterotyping, politicians pandering for votes, and our natural abhorence of certain sex crimes contribute to this lynch mob mentality.

tom

May 29th, 2010
9:05 am

Many offenders of sex crimes continue their bad behavior given the chance. Rather than indefinate incarceration why not fit them with a gps charm bracelet so they can be tracked continuously and a mandate or regular visits to a probabtion officer for a min of 10 years. This has to be cheaper than locking them up. These people are sick and no known cure exists. A past convicted pedophile was recently arrested for multiple violations of his parole. He is 90 years old.

Reagan Barr Hater

May 29th, 2010
9:39 am

If the term “sex offender” is expanded to include cheating on your spouse like you allegedly did, Mr. Barr, then I wholeheartedly agree with you on the indefinite prison terms.

neo-Carlinist

May 29th, 2010
10:10 am

Joel, please use the past tense; we’ve all lost. check mate was declared years ago. the freedom we’ve lost (or never had) is never coming back. the government has always had the power to do what it wants; it’s part of the “contract” we sign when we become Americans. as I mentioned yesterday, maybe there was a degree of “freedom” enjoyed by Americans as the nation moved west; but as noted, our freedom, infringed on the “inalienable rights” and “blessings of liberty” enjoyed by the folks who already called North America home. it might be worth noting these folks existed for hundreds of thousands of years without a government or Bill of Rights. they fought amongst themselves as we do, and maybe they were a little behind in the “technology” department, but I digress. as soon as the borders were set and the 48 continguous states were established, the Federal Government began to levy taxes and enforce (self-serving) federal law. and if you look beyond the libertarian talking points (draconian drug war, indefinite incarceration for sex offenders, out of control, IRS) you will see the Federal Government continues to solidify it’s position via covert and overt stepts towards a more “secure” nation (police state – nearly 25% of Americans with jobs are employed by either the military, corrections (local/state/federal), and/or law enforcement. so, We the People are little more than McDonald’s franchisees. We enjoy the “freedom” to succeed or fail in our endeavors, but we are not “free” to run the business outside of the policies laid down by McDonald’s corporate office. I’m not saying this is good or bad, it’s just not “freedom”.

wardenerd

May 29th, 2010
10:48 am

I worked for the US Justice Dept. when this indefinite sentence BS came up . The constitution forbids indeterminant sentencing. If you want to keep child molesters and sex predators locked up longer give them longer sentences. If you allow the government to do this they will be holding people beyond their release dates because they might rob another bank or they might sell drugs again. While this seems outrageous i remember when a seatbelt violation was only going to be $5 and only if you were stopped for some other violation. Now the fine and court cost run close to $150 and you can be stopped anytime. This creeping government will happen in this case. Many in the Justice Dept. think this is unconstitutional and worry that it is wrong but as good beauracrats do they carry on with the plan. What seperates the US from the banana republics is that we respect the law and everyday we respect it less.

Atlantarama

May 29th, 2010
11:28 am

Considering prison overcrowding, sex offenders should instead be required to take testosterone-lowering drugs with regular medical testing.

CHA

May 29th, 2010
4:36 pm

Would everyone please read “The pig Farmers Daughter” and understand who is isn’t being charged with sex crimes and why… It’s all part of the broken criminal Justice System.

neo-Carlinist

May 29th, 2010
6:53 pm

CHA, it is not a “criminal justice system” it is a criminal-justice enterprise. it’s a business like “the war on drugs” the “war on terrorism”, the “war on climate change” and the “war on poverty”. people lie all the time. they lie in court, they lie in business, they lie in church… the only form of “justice” in a case of rape or child molestation would be for the victim to assault the perpertator in the same manner (remember Don Corleone’s comments to the Bona Sera, who asked him to kill the men who beat and raped his daughter in the Godfather?). does anyone here think the SCOTUS, the George Assembly, the U.S Congress, APD or some pathetic prosecutor or smarmy criminal defense attorney cares about “justice”? they just want to dispose of cases and GET PAID. it’s not about the “system” it’s about the bottom line.

Michael

May 29th, 2010
8:22 pm

What the advocates fail to see is that the case creates precedent that will later be applied to other crimes. Shoplifters never stop so keep them in prison forever. Forgers never stop. Millionaire brokers who commit securities will likely defraud others when they get out since they are well trained and connected — likely to re-offend. While we’re at it, better make armed robbers and forgers register where they live and not let them live within 1000 feet of a bank, store or ATM.

neo-Carlinist

May 30th, 2010
7:16 am

it just occurred to me that the Constitution prohibits “cruel and unusual punishment”. could the Founding Fathers have been any more vague? and is it me, or by nature, are not ALL sex crimes either “cruel or unusual” (or both)? as stated by others (both sides of the issue), we need to clearly establish what and what does not constitute a “crime” and sentence accordingly. no plea bargains, no “time off for good behavior” no commuting of sentences or pardons (and that goes for “Scooter” Libby crimes, not merely sex crimes). we need a better mousetrap, folks.

nelsonhoward

May 30th, 2010
7:30 am

I thought for sure you would have a new column for today, Sunday. I would like to see a sequel to the columun on keeping sex offenders in prison for ever. There was a pretty good article in the LA Times some time ago. It was from the point of view of a parole office who paroled sex offenders reported to. It centered around every sex offender having an ankle bracelet so that their entire 24/7 could be tracked and recorded. Every offender[100%] at some time during the day violated the terms of parole. They were either too close to a school or a park or a daycare center, some place where children congregated. The consensus of all sex offender parole counselors was the public wants sex offenders locked up for the rest of their lives. Now, I hate to keep bringging up the Constitution and Supreme Court, however is there not a violation of the most of the important tenants of the Constitution in there somewhere? There was a case down in Texas 1944 where the appellant wanted to give a speech on workers joining a union[ Thomas v. Collins] There was an ordinance that prohibited public assembly without first getting a permit. The appellant appealed to the Supreme Court that his civil rights were deprived under the 1st and 14th amendments. The Supreme Court ruled in his favor. The laws have their limits, in the final analysis, that is why the Supreme Court ruled that sex offenders could be imprisoned forever, bowing to public sentiment.

daisy

May 30th, 2010
8:15 am

Read all comments,but the fact remains that it is unconstitional to make anyone serve more time than was originally sentenced. i am an incest and rape survivor who has no sympathy for sex offenders/the REAL crime is the slap on the wrist that child molesters/child porn are given less time than if they stole a stupid car.The problem lies in our court system,who on a daily basis,hand down idiotic and lenient punishment to these dangerous animals that will be someday soon be roaming free to hunt for their next victim!these judges need to understand that the revoving door for offenders might just lead to their neighborhood or own child to be their target then they will see the blazing red flags!by then it will be too late!The judicial system definitely needs a wake up call of the gravity of these horrendous crimes that the victim must somehow learn to live,love and trust again the punishment must fit these crimes with longer(forever)punishment BECAUSE THE VICTIMS NEVER TRUELY GET OUT OR OVER IT,IT STAYS WITH THEM ALWAYS!!!now thats unconstitutional- save the children and stop worrying about the offenders rights -they destroyed them by their own actions when they victimized a defenseless child

Moses Waddell

May 30th, 2010
9:01 am

When the “thought police” get wind of this, we’ll have a Supremes ruling that if you just THINK ABOUT doing something naughty, you’re gonna be well Donne. Don’t chuckle. That day is closer than you think…if you bother to think.

Moses Waddell

May 30th, 2010
9:01 am

Enter your comments here

whatever

May 30th, 2010
2:03 pm

Sorry, Karen, but you are wrong. The rights of protection should be extended to everyone, regardless how you “feel” about a certain crime. A person can murder a couple of people – but still get out after a few years – does that mean that person should have NOT RIGHTS once they have completed their sentence? Remember, the great thing about America is that we protect the freedoms of those we even find repulsive. I disagree strongly with people who worship satan or who study Wicca – but I will fight for their right to practice it. Do you think that a corp CEO who, because of fraud, lying, cooking the books, etc, completely destroys a company of say 30,000 employees – where those employees lose everything they ever had, including jobs, pensions, investments, etc – are not effected as much as someone who “victimized” one person or robbed a bank?? But yet, the CEO – who destroyed so many lives and the other collateral damage that comes along with it (suppliers, local economies, real estate – b/c the people can no longer afford their homes, etc) WALKS with millions?? It’s too bad that people like you, Karen, can’t see beyond yourselves sometimes.
What if you, Karen, were convicted of molesting the boy next door – but YOU know you didn’t do it – but you were found guilty anyway – yes, it happens much more than you think. How would you feel to know that your life, at that point is OVER. You can never live or work in certain areas again. You have to register of the rest of your life (even after you have served your time) – how do you think the new neighbors (b/c you would have had to move) will feel when they read on-line that they have a sex offender living in their hood?? I am not talking from experience with myself – but I do have a friend that that has happened to – and I know he is innocent – but convicted anyway. His life will NEVER be the same.

Mike Mahoney

May 30th, 2010
3:17 pm

Sex offenders should be castrated and permanently incarcerated. This would cleans the streets of some Census workers and many Democrat activists. This would be a good thing for America.

neo-Carlinist

May 30th, 2010
4:36 pm

whatever, let me guess, you’re a Christian. a crime is a crime. are you suggesting “worshipping satan or wicca” is the spiritually or theological equivalent of a “crime” because you “worship” Christ? if your hypothetical scenario is possible (Karen could be wrongly convicted of a crime she did not commit) there are no rights to protect. as I noted on Friday, American judicial history is full of DNA evidence “acquitting” convicted rapists 15 or 20 years in their sentences. if our “system” is imperfect, it is imperfect on both sides, we need to “perfect” it, as opposed to selectively and unilaterally deciding when a person needs to just “deal” with the imperfection, and when we should seek justice.

Nikita

May 30th, 2010
10:28 pm

*Contrary to most people’s beliefs, a brief review of web-sourced research documenting sex offender recidivism rates, showed a rate not unlike that of other crimes. Why do s0 many believe that everyone except sex offenders have constitutional rights?*

Because sex offenders are a convenient bogeyman.

I was attacked by a guy who’s still on the sex offender registry. He has committed sexual battery or other forms of minor sex crimes against at least 30 women. His current charge is for statuatory rape. He probably should remain under close supervision for the entirety of his life, but he has yet to commit the specific sexually-related crimes that get one locked up permanently. So, I find it of concern that the Supreme Court is defending, more or less, the right to indefinitely detain people based on how shocking their crimes are — I doubt that measure will correspond with how dangerous those people really are.

To some comments made earlier, I suspect that you guys don’t realize how constrained a sex offender is. A mapping project published a few years ago made it clear that in Georgia its virtually impossible for a sex offender to live near any populated area — there simply are too many children and too many restricted places. I personally dislike the rhetoric regarding punishing sex offenders in this way based on my experience as noted above — 1. not all sex offenders pose a threat to children, and 2. these restrictions increase the likelihood of an offender going off the grid. And I like to know where the guy who attacked me is.

hryder

May 30th, 2010
11:26 pm

Many extremely intelligent people have stated that the law is often an ass.

interested observer

May 31st, 2010
6:42 am

Bob is right. No matter how insidious the crime, when the suspect has served the sentence he should be released.

If there is reason to think a criminal will repeat the offense, that should be taken into consideration at the time of sentencing or at the time the sentence limits are established by law. There is no legal grounds to hold someone whose sentence has been completed. To hold someone after the sentence is completed is unconstitutional. Period.

Katie

May 31st, 2010
9:25 am

It’s interesting that the outraged here are men! What are you hiding!

ATF

May 31st, 2010
9:40 am

Down right scary to think the government will decide to keep someone in prison because he “might” commit the same crime again. Does this start with terrorists and sex-offenders and then become so “normal” that it gets applied to other types of crimes?

There are no guarantees of safety in this life.

Neo-Carlinist

May 31st, 2010
11:42 pm

Forgive me but according to the CIA Valerie Plame was never an undercover agent of the CIA. Therefore saying she worked for the CIA is no different than anyone ever having said Hoover is an FBI agent. No cover to be blown. And if you will remember the trial under immunity a reporter claimed he was the first to mention Plame’s CIA connection not Libby. Libby went to jail because of “Pergury” for not remembering the exact details of 2 and 3 year old conversations. Something I fear we could all go to jail for, seeing as how I for one sometimes can’t remember what I had for breakfast.

Michael

May 31st, 2010
11:44 pm

Previous post is mine to Neo-Carlinist, not from him.

Jedidiah Bird

June 1st, 2010
2:24 am

neo-Carlinist

May 28th, 2010
9:13 am

Really, and how about your “right” to smoke pot? In some states, if you raise your hand and ask politely (prescription from a M.D.), you have the right to smoke pot, but in others, the Government has the right to just say “no”. you are an example that we all have the freedom to smoke weed, but the government has the right to criminalize this “freedom”. Re: pedophiles – they prey on minors, who actually have no rights, so the government assumes the “right” to protect them and ensure their “best interests” are served; what about two consenting adults who wish to get married? In some states same sex couples can marry, but in other states they cannot. In some states, the “state” recognizes a “civil union” (bestowing the same rights as heterosexual civil unions), but does not refer to the union as a “marriage”. and for all the Constitutional purists, is marriage or sexuality even mentioned in the Constitution? If a Christian, Jew, Muslim or Wiccan wants to get “married” it is between the couple and whatever god – or rock they worship. But where in the Constitution does the government assume the authority (right) to endorse some relationship, but not others? Again, 14th amendment comes to mind. The government has no more right or authority to make a white supremicist “like” Mexicans, Negroes and Asians, than it does the power to force homosexual men to “like” women, or lesbians to favor heterosexual men.

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Okay, well here is the thing. The government does not have a right to force me into a relationship, yet if gays get the “rights” of married couples, and married couples get the same “rights” then a single individual who chooses to have multiple relationship (Or none at all, if that’s your thing) should also be granted those rights. Why do married couples get preference over single people? If they give gay couples the same rights and protection as straight couples, then they also need to extend it to singles, regardless of sexual preference. Imagine that, all men being created equal, whether you choose to get married, screw a man, woman, or goat. Whatever you choose for your sexual life, you should be treated the same.

Jedidiah Bird

June 1st, 2010
2:32 am

Katie

May 31st, 2010
9:25 am

It’s interesting that the outraged here are men! What are you hiding!

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It’s interesting that you are making an asinine statement. The outraged people are those who feel that law should be upheld. Yes, those of us who also stood up for the civil rights of minorities and of women like yourself. Without law there can be no freedom.

neo-Carlinist

June 1st, 2010
6:28 am

Michael, nobody knows what Valerie Plame did for the CIA, but it doesn’t take Tom Clancy to figure out that a “CIA employee” who worked in Africa was probably either an agent or recruiting agents (foreign nationals). Ask are host. He worked for the folks in Langley. my point is/was; Bush & Co tried to sell Americans on the war on terror and the notion that the intelligence is key (why would they profer the Patriot Act, warrantly wiretaps, Gitmo, etc.) then they turned around an burned the cover of a CIA employee working overseas. Seems they were guild to “treason”, were they not? Plame was likley never in danger, but a key role for “CIA employees” overseas is to recruit and “run” a network of non-Americans (that where the agency gets its intelligence/data). “outting” Plame put the lives of those who associated with her (non-Americans) at risk, and at the very least, likely caused the termination of whatever “operations” she may or may not have been running. And all because her husband had the audacity to write an editorila for the WashPo or NYTimes?

neo-Carlinist

June 1st, 2010
6:51 am

Jeddidiah Bird, I am not sure I understand your post. The government does not “force” us into relationships. The government endorses or OKs some, but denies others the “right” to the same realtionship (see: 14th Amendment – “equal protection”). As the law exist now, there are different “rights” – and more importantly, the benefits (access to health insurance, tax benefits, power of attorney, custody of children, etc.). I believe the government should get out of the “marriage” business (leave this to religions/faiths) and any domestic partnership consisting of two consenting adults (I don’t know that “goats” can consent, and I don’t know that animals are covered by the Constitution). these partnerships could be called “civil unions” or “domestic partnerships” and ALL Americans would be entitled to enter into on, or not. it’s like saying gay people should have a “automobile operators permit” but heterosexuals need a “driver’s license”. if the benefits were the same, I would say, let the straight folks have the word marriage and the gay folks can make up a word of their own. but the problem is, in most cases, heterosexuals a homsexuals are treated differently… under the law. the “right” to marry has a great bearing on probate court issues/wills, child custody, division of assets/property, alimony, insurance death benefits, etc. this is the issue, and there are cases in which un-married heterosexual couples are denied the same. it’s not a gay/straight issue, or a “married/single” issue, it is a 14th Amendment issue. you obviously have never been inside a family courtroom or been a party in a (heterosexual) divorce or child custody hearing/trial. “ALL men (amd women)” do not enjoy the same rights.

Willis

June 1st, 2010
6:53 am

This country is sex-crazed. Why not just outlaw all sexual acts and be done with it.

Amy in the ATL

June 1st, 2010
8:26 am

Being a mom with two young daughters, I personally support allowing the government to keep a dangerous sexual predator behind bars for life.

However, I think this is a question of process. IF we as a society believe that certain types of crimes should mean a lifetime behind bars without chance of parole, then that should be the sentence handed down in court, not something decided after the fact.

Also, we really need to take a scalpel to the definition of sex crime. A 24 year old who molests an 8 year old has committed a sex crime. A man who violently assaults a woman at knifepoint has committed a sex crime. But an 18 year old who sleeps with his 16 year old girlfriend shouldn’t be put in that same category, and laws banning homosexuality or oral sex shuold be stricken from the books. Tracking sex offenders becomes fairly meaningless when you throw the Genarlow Wilson’s in with the John Mark Karrs of the world.