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US Supreme Court Upholds Indefinite Confinement 745

An anonymous reader points out the news that the US Supreme Court today upheld a law that allows the federal government to keep prison inmates behind bars beyond the end of their sentences, if officials determine they may be "sexually dangerous" in the future. The case involves one Graydon Comstock, who was certified as "dangerous" six days before his 37-month federal prison term for processing child pornography was to end. The vote was 7 to 2. Three of the justices who concurred with the decision raised an objection to the broadness of the language used in the majority opinion, written by Justice Kennedy.
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US Supreme Court Upholds Indefinite Confinement

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:01PM (#32246278)

    No, I can't think of any ways this could be abused.

  • by guspasho ( 941623 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:05PM (#32246334)

    This is how liberty dies. First they claim that terrorists don't have rights, then they claim sex offenders don't have rights. Before you know it, nobody will have any rights.

  • ColdGate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by webbiedave ( 1631473 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:06PM (#32246354)
    FTA: "The fact that the federal government has the authority to imprison a person for the purpose of punishing him for a federal crime — sex-related or otherwise — does not provide the Government with the additional power to exercise indefinite civil control over that person," Justice Thomas wrote.

    Makes sense to me. If the crime deserves a longer sentence, then impose a longer sentence. But let's not cherry pick after the fact.
  • The real problem (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:07PM (#32246360) Homepage Journal

    The real problem is the sentencing guidelines. A true child rapist should go away for life in prison. Then this wouldn't be an issue. I am not talking about statutory rapists, I mean the ones who really prey on children.

  • Re:Scope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MindlessAutomata ( 1282944 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:09PM (#32246386)

    Just like not anyone goes to Guantanamo--they also have to be "enemy combatants." Only "enemy combatants" are sent to Guantanamo, right? So it must be OK.

  • Re:Scope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <> on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:12PM (#32246424) Homepage

    Reading about this today, I found that the scope of this particular decision is less scary than I initially assumed -- it's limited to prisoners who meet a standard as being "sexually dangerous", so they're not just being held without due process.

    Due process means appearing before a jury of your peers, or at least before a judge, with an opportunity to face your accuser and to defend yourself - not that some bureaucrat makes out a report and then another bureaucrat throws away the key to your cell.
    Furthermore, they're not making the decision to confine on the basis of evidence, they're making it on the basic of assumptions and one person's judgment.
    If you aren't scared, you should be. Very scared.

  • by ciaran_o_riordan ( 662132 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:13PM (#32246430) Homepage

    Here's the supremes' decision:

    From working on the Bilski case, I've ended up reading a dozen US Supreme Court decisions, and I've found them surprisingly readable. There are times when you just have to accept that something has a meaning that you don't know, but even with these gaps, the remaining text is usually coherent.

  • Re:Scope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheMeuge ( 645043 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:13PM (#32246438)

    Once you start allowing this sort of action, where's the protection that keeps it from growing into something else?

    Are we going to start seeing 18 year-olds locked up forever because they had sex with a girl a few months younger than them?

    Undoubtedly. If we can put two 16-year-olds in prison for taping themselves having sex (and not sharing with anyone) as "manufacturers of child pornography", and put at this point hundreds of teenagers on the "sex offender list" for texting each other their private parts, then yes, it is likely that with this decision in the near future we will see teenagers go to prison forever, because they defied their teacher, the cops, or just some prude who couldn't get laid if he/she tried.

    Until we figure out a way to legislate in a way that applies some degree of common sense, this sort of thing just can't be allowed.

    Well, evidently not only is it allowed, but our highest court agrees also. So I guess you're on the losing side of the issue. Before someone goes through your cache and locates a thumbnail, which has a 17 +364 day old doing naughty things and thus puts you in prison for life, you better get with the program. Cause in a dictatorship of the bureaucracy, you'll find that dissent of any sort will result in the entire collection of laws to be applied to you. And at this point, we've got enough laws to make anyone a criminal, as long as you try hard enough.

  • Re:A free society. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Skyshadow ( 508 ) * on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:14PM (#32246444) Homepage

    Justices decide if the Constitution prohibits a law, not if the law is a good idea.

    IANACL (I Am Not A Constitutional Lawyer), but I don't understand how this law would necessarily be unconstitutional -- these people are being given access to due process, and are essentially being held on the same legal basis that the government uses to commit the dangerously mentally ill (which, really, is what these folks are).

    This isn't to debate the merits of the law itself, of course, but blaming the Democratic-leaning justices for ruling on the law's constitutionality (esp, in a 7-2 decision) is pretty weak.

  • Re:Scope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:14PM (#32246450)
    That's only the Presidency. Senators don't have a limit on re-elections...
  • Re:Scope (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:18PM (#32246510)

    "You start with an obvious good thing (keeping violent sex offenders behind bars) and it grows into something completely different..."

    Um, this is the case with EVERYTHING the federal government touches. Why do you think the founding fathers initially made the federal government so impotent that it was bankrupt and nearly collapsed? They understood the wickedness of the human heart and the myth of the "good" person. They understood that the government would be full of people. That is, it would be corrupt and self-serving. So they sought to limit its powers. What we have today is a complete bastardization of the government that they left to us.

  • Re:Scope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ceoyoyo ( 59147 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:19PM (#32246518)

    "Once you start allowing this sort of action, where's the protection that keeps it from growing into something else?"

    Well, you could look at the rest of the world and see if anybody has tried the experiment for you.

    Canada, the UK and Denmark all have dangerous offender laws that allow indefinite confinement. None of them has anything like the prison population the US does, or locks up 18 year olds forever because they had sex with a girl a few months younger than they are (I don't believe that's even mildly illegal in any of the three).

  • Re:Scope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Shakrai ( 717556 ) * on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:20PM (#32246534) Journal

    Yeah, I had that argument with someone over the weekend. "Why should people on the watch list be allowed to buy guns?", my response "Why should the Attorney General be able to take away my rights with no due process?" The 5th amendment says that we can't be denied life, liberty or property without due process of law. Somehow I don't think that was meant to cover "The AG takes away your rights but you can appeal his determination if you have the financial resources to do so."

    Ah, but it's for the children, so that's ok. Child molestation, DWI, terrorism, etc. All boogieman exploited by those seeking to whittle away at our rights.

  • Re:A free society. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:26PM (#32246608) Journal
    I take it you don't like the decision?

    Then you'd better hope we get more justices like the dissenters... Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, dissented in the case... (FTFA)
  • Crazy talk! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:27PM (#32246618) Homepage Journal
    The real problem is the sentencing guidelines. A true child rapist should go away for life in prison. Then this wouldn't be an issue. I am not talking about statutory rapists, I mean the ones who really prey on children.

    Woah, my hypocritical bullshit detector just flashed defcon 5...

    You should a child rapist be put in prison for any longer than any other sort of rapist? How is it any more acceptable to rape a 21 year old woman than it is a child? This sounds like a typical 'OMG, we must protect the children' hysteria that clouds and distorts this sort of discussion. I don't care if you rape a 3 year old girl or a 35 year old man who is a master of 14 martial arts, a persons degree of ability to defend themselves does not mitigate the crime.
  • Re:Scope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bobcat7677 ( 561727 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:30PM (#32246668) Homepage
    I think this is a very dangerous precedent all around.

    First of all, as the parent alluded to, there is a tendency for "scope creep" in any exception to any law.

    Secondly, it's quite obvious that the justices were trying to acknowledge a deficiency in the current laws, however to hand down a verdict like this is a great example of the "slippery slope".. Ultimately, this gives a lot of power to government to do stuff like setup "Gitmo"s for it's own citizens that some official declares to be "dangerous". And ultimately it's punishing people for "thought crimes". I don't doubt that these people would commit crimes again, but if they have already served the maximum sentence under current law, they should be set free until they do actually commit another crime. Yeah it sucks sometimes, but that is how our justice system is supposed to get punished for what you have done, not what you "might do". If what they do is so "dangerous" then the laws for punishment should be strong enough to sentence the person to life without parole once they have committed one of those offenses. What ever happened to the law being blind anyway?
  • by Ethanol-fueled ( 1125189 ) * on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:31PM (#32246680) Homepage Journal
    In two heated arguments about child abuse, one seen on Fox News and one I had with a friend, the guys on the "think of the children" side of the argument said that child abuse was so horrible that they couldn't even look at a child without imagining them being molested -- and while they were trying to appeal to emotion, they only ended up looking like creeps. It seems the "think of the children crowd" are the ones with the unhealthy obsession with children.

    As usual, people with too much power dedicating their voices to speaking out against what they hate most about themselves:

    Larry Craig. []
    Mark Foley. []
    Roy Ashburn. []
  • Re:Crazy talk! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:41PM (#32246766) Homepage Journal

    You're actually right. Any rapist should go away for life.

  • Re:Scope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:44PM (#32246800) Homepage

    Dangerous? Maybe. The problem is that no elected official wants to be the one standing in front of the camera justifying why some guy with a known history of raping and killing little girls (or boys) was let out of jail and given the opportunity to do it again.

    Elected officials are a little concerned about making such an appearance, because the news media is going to go after them and bring it out come election time. This pretty much means that letting someone like this out ends the career of some politician, somewhere.

    Remember Polly Klass? This is pretty much where this is coming from, where the known offender was released and one night kidnapped, raped and killed Polly Klass from her bedroom. Her father made a big deal about how this was allowed to happen.

    If you actually believe these people should be set free, start figuring out how to explain it to Polly Klass's father. If you can successfully convince him that these people deserve to be free after their sentance is over, then you have a winner.

    Of course, you can't convince him and neither can anyone else. Which is why keeping these people locked up forever is the only solution that exists right now. Why these folks were not given a life sentance to begin with somewhat mystifies me as that would seem to be the "right" solution. But for now with quite a number of child-endangering folks coming up for release I don't see freedom as a possibility. Out of jail on somewhere like Pitcarne Island, maybe but it seems that Pitcarne Island already has plenty of child-raping folks there. Who knows, maybe they would fit right in.

  • Re:Scope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:46PM (#32246828) Journal

    No, if the sheep has a gun, it's a republic.


  • by Antisyzygy ( 1495469 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:51PM (#32246886)
    When you string together 2 inches at a time, eventually you will reach 200 miles. People may be over-reacting to this ruling but if you consider the bull shit going on elsewhere in our legal system and in government people start getting pissed off.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:54PM (#32246930)

    Appeals are too expensive, so let's do away with the death penalty??

    How about we just streamline the appeals process?

  • by cdrguru ( 88047 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:59PM (#32246996) Homepage

    Too bad we closed nearly all of the "insane asylums" in the 1970's as being impossibly sadistic and cruel. The people were dumped out on the streets and became the homeless population. But we stopped being so sadistic and cruel as to have these people confined against their will.

    Yeah, I am not a big fan of closing those places. We now have mostly nice hospitals with Occupational Therapy making pots and collages for bored housewives with depression. The number of places where you can put someone like John Hinkley today is pretty much less than 10. The number of slots is extremely limited.

    I believe the reason the scope of possible treatment for really mentally ill people in prison is so limited is to prevent the reoccurence of any sort of state hospital system as existed before the 1970's. There were plenty of places then, and plenty of people filling these places up. What happened to all of these people? Well, they are in regular prisons and they are on the streets today. There is nowhere else.

    The will of the people decided this matter back in the 1970s and nobody seems to want to change the state of things now.

  • Re:Crazy talk! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wonko the Sane ( 25252 ) * on Monday May 17, 2010 @08:02PM (#32247042) Journal

    I would agree only if the definition of rape was tightened up a bit from what it is currently. If we're talking about clear-cut acts of violence then sure, just don't count, "I didn't really want to but I didn't want to say no either because then he might have broken up with me" as rape.

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @08:20PM (#32247200)
    Isn't there also a risk of false positives when labeling people as "dangerous" to justify indefinite incarceration? I agree that we shouldn't execute people because one mistake is too many, but we really don't have much of a system for exonerating people once they are convicted either. We are only really certain that someone is guilty if they confess, but using that as a criteria risks punishing the most honest offenders more harshly than the sneaky bastards.
  • So wait... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by urusan ( 1755332 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @08:22PM (#32247218)

    They can put you away for good for being "sexually dangerous" but not for being a mortal danger to the lives of others?

  • by Locke2005 ( 849178 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @08:23PM (#32247226)
    Right... so if you're going to rape someone, you might as well kill them afterward... fewer witnesses that way.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @08:25PM (#32247242)

    It's NOT limited.

    The U.S. government believes it can imprison, kidnap, torture, or kill anyone, anywhere. The only necessary condition is that the government apply a label to that person. Sample labels: Enemy combatant. Possible terrorist. Sexually dangerous. Other labels that may be secret. Sometimes no proof is considered necessary.

    The U.S. government believes it can spy on anyone, anywhere, and spends more taxpayer money on spying than any government anywhere.

    The U.S. government believes it can lie to taxpayers.

    Some departments of the U.S. government believe the government can kill anyone, anywhere, for any reason, or no reason at all, or no reason a normal citizen would consider a real reason.

    The U.S. government has killed more Iraqis than Saddam Hussein, by a factor of more than 10. The U.S. government called Saddam Hussein cruel.

    The U.S. government has a 6 times higher percentage of its citizens in prison than any country anywhere.

    The U.S. government has more debt than any country anywhere, in the entire history of the world.

    The U.S. government has invaded or bombed more than 24 countries since the end of the 2nd world war.

    The U.S. government believes it can interfere with the governments of other countries. For example, in 1953 the U.S. government removed democratically elected Iranian Prime Minister Mosaddegh [].

    The government has engaged in violent activity toward another country each year, except one, for more than the last 100 years []. Apparently all of that violence was to increase private profit.

  • Re:Scope (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @08:27PM (#32247268)

    Children are dangerous, they should at least be put in jail, and if not, we should at least enact some sort of BR Act []

  • by dirkdodgers ( 1642627 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @08:37PM (#32247358)

    I'm not sure it's possible to praise justices Scalia and Thomas on Slashdot without be marked as a Troll, but I'm about to.

    There is a lesson in this to be learned by all of those who rail against justices like Scalia and Thomas when they vote contrary to your personal beliefs about social issues.

    This is at the core of the difference between tyranny and a constitutional republic.

    As Edward Kennedy recently put it, are we a nation of laws, or a nation of men? Today we see again that we are merely a nation of men, ruled by the arbitrary will of an unelected few, rather than by a constitution designed to protect at all costs the liberty of the few from the will of the many.

    If you don't like the constitution, we have process in place to change it for exactly that reason. We have many times before. That's the agreement you and I have as members of a civilized, free society. If you think you can walk all over the peoples' document when it becomes an obstacle to your social agenda: FUCK YOU.

  • Mental Illness (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @08:43PM (#32247394) Homepage Journal

    If sex offenders are mentally ill, which caused their behavior, and are still ill that way when their sentence is up, then they shouldn't be released. They probably shouldn't be in jail, either. They should be in a psychiatric jail.

    The law in the US regarding sickness vs criminality is so screwed up that there's little chance people's rights will be protected when their illness creates either harm or risk to other people.

  • Re:OSS (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Phrogman ( 80473 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @08:46PM (#32247412) Homepage

    I believe I recall reading that the OSS did this during WWII to people who were a security risk and whom they felt couldn't be trusted not to blab. I can't find a source for this though so it may be fiction or rumour.

  • Re:Scope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @08:49PM (#32247444) Homepage Journal

    Who defines the criteria, though?
    Apparently, based on TFA, the possession of child pornography is enough to be classified as "sexually dangerous".
    I fear that this opens up for classifying anyone with a sex-related conviction as "sexually dangerous", and anyonen with a deviance or kink as "mentally ill". I.e. a potential for becoming a rubber stamp for extending incarceration beyond the sentencing for anyone who the voters consider especially disgusting.

  • by SetupWeasel ( 54062 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @08:54PM (#32247498) Homepage

    When I agree with Scalia and Thomas and no one else on a Supreme Court decision. You cannot change the rules of incarceration. There is a sentence. If you want to hold prisoners longer make the sentence longer. You could even make the possibility of additional comfinement, but you can't make the sentence a court gave them any longer without a new trial.

    Well I guess you can now. Who the fuck cares about the Constitution? No one. No one who matters anyway.

  • by MechaStreisand ( 585905 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:02PM (#32247566)
    No, what's complete and utter bullshit is the idea that a, say, 16 year old girl is incapable of seducing someone older than her. If she initiates it, exactly how is the adult doing anything wrong? Who is being victimized, other than the adult, by the society at large and assholes like you?
  • Re:Crazy talk! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arth1 ( 260657 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:04PM (#32247576) Homepage Journal

    And, for that matter, what makes rape any worse than any other violation of the body? What makes having sex with an unwilling person worse than, say, breaking someone's kneecaps?

    Yes, rape is a bad crime, but some people treat it like it's worse than murder. In which case I can't help asking "would it have been better if the rapist had killed the victim instead?"

    IMO, we need to get past the monotheistic revenge based justice system, and start examining why violence happens and address that. Both at a society level and a perosnal level. How can we best prevent Joe Perp from becoming Joe Recidivist. Sure, locking him away for life is one option, but far from the best one. I fear that all it teaches other potential perpetrators is "don't get caught".

  • Re:ColdGate (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Itninja ( 937614 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:07PM (#32247602) Homepage
    Not in prison. All sessions (that I have seen) are videotaped. You've seen Terminator 2? Where the doctor is talking with Sarah Connor? It's not entirely unlike that at all. This isn't about 'curing' the sex offender. It's about understanding why they do what they do and to give the illusion to the prison that, if they are honest, they just might go free (which of course they never will). I have spoken with 100's of sex offenders (usually those convicted of sex crime against minors) and I have yet to meet on that is articulate or particular bright. In short, the smart perverts never get caught (or if they do, they get acquitted).
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:08PM (#32247610) Journal

    But, you can't get life without parole unless you've killed someone....

    If you're a juvenile. That's an important distinction.

    There are ways to get life without parole if you are an adult and you do enough bad things.

    Regarding the other case, I have to side with the SCOTUS minority. If you want to keep child molesters locked away for ever, then pass laws that require longer sentences, rather than sentencing them to ten years then holding them forever.

    And for god's sake, if you skip a safety regulation and 29 coal miners die, be prepared to be charged with manslaughter, at the very least. The day a CEO of a coal company who causes 29 death does the same amount of time as a 19 year-old caught with a pound of reefer, then we can pretend we have a country based on the rule of law and not the rule of money.

    So big deal, the United States Supreme Court really showed those horrible child molesters. That's an easy call. Do something hard and apply the same set of rules to the rich and powerful who break laws.

  • Re:Scope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:11PM (#32247636) Journal

    4248. Civil commitment of a sexually dangerous person

    (a) Institution of Proceedings.— In relation to a person who is in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons, or who has been committed to the custody of the Attorney General pursuant to section 4241 (d)

    section 4241 (d) Determination and Disposition.— If, after the hearing, the court finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the defendant is presently suffering from a mental disease or defect rendering him mentally incompetent to the extent that he is unable to understand the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him or to assist properly in his defense, the court shall commit the defendant to the custody of the Attorney General. The Attorney General shall hospitalize the defendant for treatment in a suitable facility—
    (1) for such a reasonable period of time, not to exceed four months, as is necessary to determine whether there is a substantial probability that in the foreseeable future he will attain the capacity to permit the proceedings to go forward; and
    (2) for an additional reasonable period of time until—
    (A) his mental condition is so improved that trial may proceed, if the court finds that there is a substantial probability that within such additional period of time he will attain the capacity to permit the proceedings to go forward; or
    (B) the pending charges against him are disposed of according to law;
    whichever is earlier.

    or against whom all criminal charges have been dismissed solely for reasons relating to the mental condition of the person, the Attorney General or any individual authorized by the Attorney General or the Director of the Bureau of Prisons may certify that the person is a sexually dangerous person, and transmit the certificate to the clerk of the court for the district in which the person is confined. The clerk shall send a copy of the certificate to the person, and to the attorney for the Government, and, if the person was committed pursuant to section 4241 (d), to the clerk of the court that ordered the commitment. The court shall order a hearing to determine whether the person is a sexually dangerous person. A certificate filed under this subsection shall stay the release of the person pending completion of procedures contained in this section. 4248. Civil commitment of a sexually dangerous person []

    OK maybe I'm dense but this law is by my reading aimed at person's who are mentally incompetent or legally insane such that they are incapable of standing trial, in the case of Graydon Comstock, he served his sentence of 37 months for receiving child pornography, seems to me that if 1. he's mentally capable? of standing trial and serving his sentence that the law does not apply to him and secondly how does receiving illegal pornography make one sexually dangerous? So it's obvious to me they are not only applying the law outside it's bounds and we can't rely on the courts to correct the matter so any reliance on limitations is wishful thinking.

  • Re:Scope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BitterOak ( 537666 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:12PM (#32247638)

    Reading about this today, I found that the scope of this particular decision is less scary than I initially assumed -- it's limited to prisoners who meet a standard as being "sexually dangerous", so they're not just being held without due process. Apparently this applies to about 100 prisoners nationwide.

    One of whom had only a 37 month sentence for possession of child pornography. No mention that he had ever touched a child. Extending a sentence from 37 months to life is pretty severe. The potential for abuse of this process is staggering. Who gets to decide if someone is "sexually dangerous"? A doctor? What are the rules of evidence and due process requirements for the forum in which that determination is made? Does someone even have to be convicted of a crime for them to be labelled as "sexually dangerous"? This is by far the most frightening decision I've seen the SCOTUS hand down in my lifetime.

  • Re:Scope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zill ( 1690130 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:18PM (#32247668)

    Unfortunately, it won't be un-repealed when the wars end

    I'm sorry; I don't quite follow you.

    We've always been at war with Eastasia. It's silly to imply that the war will ever end.

  • Re:Scope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:27PM (#32247734) Journal

    Yes, but do they meet the criteria for criminal insanity or only the criteria for psychological insanity?

    Are the politicians insane or the people who keep electing them?

    Someone offers me a job where every weekend is a long weekend, everybody kisses your ass, you get corporations handing you big sacks full of cash, a six-figure salary and then great health care benefits and a pension after 6 years? Oh yeah, I'm gonna take that job.

    Top of all that, you get a fat allowance for an office and staff, which means you can hire an exotic dancer/masseuse as your secretary.

    The only bad part is you have to wear a suit and tie. No casual fridays in the Senate. I'd rather be a judge, so I get to wear the black dress and I can be naked under it, like Clarence Thomas. I don't know what it is about Clarence, but for some reason, I get the feeling that he goes commando under the robes. And who could blame him?

  • Re:Scope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Foobar of Borg ( 690622 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:34PM (#32247792)

    It is pretty bad. What about people that are dangerous but not sexually dangerous? It seems that the law puts higher precedence on sexual crime versus general physical crime. If someone has proven to be a violent offender in general they should be deemed dangerous and left in prison to protect society.

    That's because, in America, sex = bad, violence = groovy, baby!

    Why else do you think we talk about Janet Jackson's nipple showing being "immoral" while we're blowing the fuck out of innocent civilians?

  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:35PM (#32247810)

    Those three had nothing to do with this decision, this was the SCOTUS. The two minority opinion were both conservative judges.

    But a nice way to bring up those losers and insinuate they had something to do with it

  • by Ichijo ( 607641 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:42PM (#32247856) Journal

    Why would you let someone go before they've rehabilitated? That's stupid.

    And why would you keep them in prison after they've rehabilitated? That's also stupid.

    So then why sentence a criminal for any number of years at all, when you don't know yet how long it will take? Pulling numbers out of thin air just doesn't sound like a very good idea. Am I way off base here?

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:57PM (#32247988)
    As do I. Never before in memory (well, except for Guantanamo) has SCOTUS claimed that the government has the authority to incarcerate someone indefinitely without trial. I think we are seeing almost immediate (and extremely unfortunate and dangerous) results of the precedent that was set in the Guantanamo situation.

    Not to mention the question of whether the Federal government has any authority to do that in a non-military context. Murder is embodied in state law. As is rape. Where does the Federal government (and SCOTUS) think it gets the authority to do this? There is nothing in the Constitution that would bestow this kind of power on them. And that includes the general welfare and interstate commerce clauses.

    All in all, I think it is pretty damned clear that the majority made yet another BAD decision, much like some of the other bad decisions it has made in the last 10-15 years. I think it's time for new blood in the courts. And I don't mean Kagan; she pushed this law when the court last reviewed it. She would be my last choice for Supreme.

    "If Congress can employ money indefinitely to the general welfare, and are the sole and supreme judges of the general welfare, they may take the care of religion into their own hands; they may appoint teachers in every State, county and parish and pay them out of their public treasury; they may take into their own hands the education of children, establishing in like manner schools throughout the Union; they may assume the provision of the poor; they may undertake the regulation of all roads other than post-roads; in short, every thing, from the highest object of state legislation down to the most minute object of police, would be thrown under the power of Congress. ... Were the power of Congress to be established in the latitude contended for, it would subvert the very foundations, and transmute the very nature of the limited Government established by the people of America." -- James Madison
  • Re:Scope (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kpau ( 621891 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:01PM (#32248036)
    I'd like to say those who consider cartoons and drawings to have harmed actual children are the mentally ill ones.... but that goes right over their head.
  • by Kpau ( 621891 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:10PM (#32248088)
    Its always fascinating to me how few people *know* that little history bit about the asylums and the soon-after appearance of the terminally homeless.
  • by pete6677 ( 681676 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:40PM (#32248302)

    Nothing in this decision or in the law says that molesters will be imprisoned forever without trial. Nothing at all.

  • Re:Crazy talk! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:23PM (#32248568)
    When I was in college, I saw far too many cases where "No" did not mean "No". And those were when it was said after the fact, under influence of a regretful hangover.

    Honestly, I was astounded at how many women, in order to protect their "reputation" (meaning: with fellow sorority sisters and dorm-mates) would deny consent after the fact. It happened... well, not all the time, but far too often. And while I hate to use the word "appalled" more than once on any Slashdot subject, that is one situation in which I truly was. Those young women cared only about themselves and their perceived "reputation" (which often was nowhere near what they thought it was anyway), and gave not the slightest damn that they could totally ruin the young man for the rest of his life with their accusations.

    Oh, yeah. That's "rape". But the other way around.
  • Castration? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xjerky ( 128399 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:25PM (#32248582)

    If someone is that much of a danger sexually, then why haven't we castrated them? Would that not go a long way in ensuring that they do not commit such a crime again?

  • Re:hey genius (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Qzukk ( 229616 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:44PM (#32248730) Journal

    which says that juveniles cannot get life sentences for nonhomicides.

    Unless they looked at kiddie porn, then they get a 3 year sentence that they serve for the rest of their life.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:44PM (#32248732)

    From TFA

    The federal law at issue in the case allows the government to continue to detain prisoners who had engaged in sexually violent conduct, AND suffered from mental illness AND would have difficulty controlling themselves. If the government is able to prove all of this to a judge by “clear and convincing” evidence — a heightened standard, but short of “beyond a reasonable doubt” — it may hold such prisoners until they are no longer dangerous or a state assumes responsibility for them.

    This is only applies to @100 inmates. I wonder what else Comstock did that we are unaware of.

  • Re:Scope (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TruthSauce ( 1813784 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:48PM (#32248758)

    Allowing the victim to dictate the sentencing of a perpetrator is a fundamental issue that runs contrary to every aspect of modern western justice.

    There are discussions of this ranging back to Socrates and Plato, Voltaire, Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson.

    They all agree that this is not a suitable punishment. In the animal kingdom, it is not uncommon for instinct to dictate that an animal who has set foot on your "turf" should be viscerally executed with your bare hands. Obviously this is an extreme example, but it lays the foundation for the deleterious effect that this argument would have on the justice system as a whole.

    Additionally, the concept of "absolute safety" in society is another significant negative force on personal liberty during the last several decades. The concept that everyone has a "right" to complete safety at all times that trumps various other long-held freedoms is a serious issue that can't be dismissed.

    Just like little Polly's father is very angry at the crime, the perpetrator likely has a family who is equally as disturbed at his incarceration. While you can easily dehumanize him by calling him a "monster" or whatever other phrase suits your emotional decorum, you are making an enormous ontological jump to convince yourself that your view is justified.

    We have a justice system that dictates punishment, partially for punitive and partially for rehabilitative purposes. Currently, the system in the United States hands out nearly 4-times the prison sentence for this crime as any other western democracy and, yet, we still have the highest rates of all of these victimizing crimes.

    Perhaps we should stop to think about what it is in the vengeful attitude with which we approach justice that causes our society to have such high rates of violence and victimization and look abroad. Sweden has one of the lowest rates of child sexual assault in the world. They also adopt a very permissive attitude regarding teen sex and homosexuality and have relatively short sentences, focused on rehabilitation (which appears to be very successful for them). There is no sex offender registry. In fact, a private group set one up last year, and there was a massive public protest in opposition to it. Police forced the owner to take the site down immediately as it violates Swedish privacy laws.

    It's interesting to look at countries that adopt a different posture about these issues and try to educate ourselves. Perhaps we might wonder why we have such high rates of violence and why we have such high rates of victimization and then peer at our reactions to those things and question if they are, indeed, legitimate or useful and not simply our slobbering animal instinct lashing out at things we don't understand, or decide are "gross".

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @12:07AM (#32248870)
    Bullshit. Read the article again, and study up on some law.

    First, the Federal government has no authority to do this. Whether it says they will be imprisoned forever or not. It's not in their jurisdiction.

    Second, "clear and convincing evidence" is FAR lower than the normal standard for incarceration, which is "beyond reasonable doubt". So yeah, it WOULD give the Federal government the ability to incarcerate someone forever, without a proper trial. At least, any kind of "trial" that would be accepted in any other situation.

    Third, in the very poster-child case mentioned in the article, the government would have it apply to a "receiver" of child pornography. Note here an important distinction: you may think the person is weird and deranged, but study after study have shown no link between mere "receivers" of child pornography, and actual real-life crimes. The man was not convicted for any crime other than receiving child pornography. He molested no children. In fact, there is ample evidence to show that rather than inciting crime, pornography is cathartic, and that people who might otherwise commit crimes will otherwise take out their obsessions or aggressions on the pornography, rather than real people.

    To recap: most "receivers" of child pornography are NOT people who are dangerous to society or children. No matter what the government would have you believe.

    Do not misunderstand; I am NOT saying that people who create child pornography are doing mankind a favor. What I am saying is that psychologically, most people who "get turned on" by such stuff would rather deal with it on their own, rather than commit acts they know are completely unacceptable to society.

    Further, technically YOU are probably a "reciever" of child pornography, in your emails or internet popups. Whether you want to be or not. That stuff gets stored in your system logs and browser cache, where they can be found later by the authorities. Sure, that doesn't mean you are keeping a collection specifically of child pornography... but it DOES mean that you are in violation of the same laws. Hmmm... maybe we should lock YOU up for 10 years, then change our minds and lock you up for life! What do you think? Is that fair?

    No matter how much you think this is "for the children", the fact is that the Fourth Circuit judged properly, and SCOTUS did not. Which just adds to the number of exceedingly bad decisions they have made in the last decade and a half. And even if it were not a bad decision, the Federal government does not have the authority to make it.
  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @12:17AM (#32248950) Homepage Journal

    This is an ex post facto law []. No way around it. Making such a law is outright forbidden - explicitly - by the constitution to both the feds (congress) and the states. The fact that it's aimed at some sex offender is just used to get the foot in the door -- if you remove "sex offender" and put "murderer" or "litterbug" in there, the effect of the law is the same: To increase punishment after the fact.

    SCOTUS, out of control, still. Or again. However you want to put it. There's no way to rein in these traitors to their oaths either -- the system as designed is outright broken. The constitution has zero legal teeth.

  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @12:31AM (#32249012)

    "The geek forgets the American Civil War - the six hundred thousand dead - which profoundly and permanently altered the relationship between the states and the federal government."

    Nonsense. The Geek forgets none of these things. The Geek has done her research. You have not.

    The power to judge constitutionality has never lied with the Supreme Court. That belongs to the states. (I should amend that: SCOTUS has the power to rule things UN-constitutional. It does not have the power to rule them constitutional.) And I am not even going to begin to point you at sources, because if you don't even understand that, I would have to give you a whole page full of links just to prove it. And I am not going to bother. (But I predict that you will interpret that statement as an error, and tell me I am full of BS. Go ahead. I have heard it all before. But I am not impressed with "intellectuals" who skim the surface and delve no deeper.)

    So even though I will not bother to refute you using citations, I will go this far: the Civil War did not change the provisions of the Constitution, or what they mean, nor did they nullify any of it. Even SCOTUS will agree with me on that. Even while they ignore it.

    If you feel that the Civil War changed the Constitution, or its meaning, I would really like to know how. Please elaborate. It did not, for example, establish a precedent that states could not secede. That only precedent established there (if there is any at all) is that they may not forcibly secede. And even then there was little fear of that: the Northern government established a fort, with clear intent to threaten the South militarily, before the South did anything but talk. Read up on your history. (BTW, I am not a Southerner, nor were my parents, nor the vast majority of my friends.) I am not saying the South was right, but the Civil War was never about slavery. If you are one of those people who think it was, then READ YOUR HISTORY. That's not what happened.

    As further evidence that the Feds do not have the authority to do this, I will simply bring up the fact that they never have... until now. Now, ask yourself: how could that be? Maybe there is a reason WHY, a reason that was always acknowledged until now?

    I haven't forgotten history. You and SCOTUS have. And it will come back to bite you in the ass.

  • Re:Scope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MrLint ( 519792 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @12:44AM (#32249066) Journal

    Because no one has ever been classified mentally ill for the sake of someone political ambition..

    I'm not strictly trying to be snarky here, but when you have cases already in which prosecutors refuse to have old evidence tested for DNA because they 'know' they have the right man on death row (looking at you Texas)... this too will be abused.... and now its the law of the land.

  • by Xaositecte ( 897197 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @01:05AM (#32249184) Journal

    I've seen you on /. a few times now. Your posts very rarely make any sense, and this one was especially incoherent.

    Posts with citations that contradict your assertions already exist in this thread, especially this guy [] who posted before the poster you responded to.

    I guess what I'm saying is, learn how to argue better if you're going to continue doing it.

  • by ari_j ( 90255 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @01:10AM (#32249206)
    Do you have a citation other than to your own blog? I note the lack of any reference to civil commitment, which is discussed at length by the Supreme Court. A thorough analysis that concludes that this Supreme Court decision enables an ex post facto law must cover the following issues: First, whether civil commitment as involved in this case is a form of "punishment" within the meaning of Calder v. Bull; and, if so, then second, whether there has been any constitutionally-prohibited act taken which does in fact increase the punishment for offenses after they were committed in United States v. Comstock.

    Your blog addresses neither of these issues. It simply states that "Clearly, extending a prisoners sentence beyond that specified by the law at the time of conviction qualifies in every way for this class of ex post facto law." There is no analysis of the real issues. Even if you are right, you really do need to show your work on this one.

    That said, your other blog entries are intriguing, particularly regarding the aurora (visible from my location, as well, so I can directly benefit from your photo op detection code). I don't mean to discredit you at all as a person, merely to suggest that you be more rigorous in the discussion of this issue because I think it bears doing.
  • Very good argument: everyone else is doing it so why shouldn't I?

    Mature, reasonable, moral, and an excellent way to get a reputation for being the light of the world. I feel so much better now.
  • by dpastern ( 1077461 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @01:34AM (#32249328) Homepage

    Yes, you are correct. The person is in jail, with no rights, and the legislative branch and judicial branches are both corrupt, bowing to public wants. The problem here is that most of the public are idiots who know jack shit. Opinions are like assholes - every one has one. Public opinion is the largest asshole of all. Judge a person, sentence a person, then let them go at the *end* of the judged sentence. Don't just arbitrarily change things to suit your needs. These judges need to be shot. A real society has no need of judges that make warped decisions like this that are clearly supportive of abuses of power.

    I know I'm an anarchist, and I can't wait for the day when society falls apart.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @02:15AM (#32249506)

    Derived from other boards.

    1) SCOTUS already decided that it's OK for states to do this very thing in 1997 (Kansas v. Hendricks, 521 U.S. 346). Both dissenters in this case were in the majority then, which tells you something.

    2) I've been told (though I haven't read the decision myself) that the dissent was ONLY about the idea that the Feds can do this, NOT that the confinement is unconstitutional in of itself.

    3) Therefore, if you take Hendricks and this case together, EVERY SINGLE JUSTICE has declared the detention itself constitutional.

    If you don't like it, THAT is what needs to be changed, not the justices.

  • by muridae ( 966931 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:31AM (#32249842)
    Reading the opinion, and I haven't gotten all the way through it yet, the ruling seems to be that a civil commitment can be ordered after the jail term is served. The case is odd, in that my first impression is that the accused is having his confinement extended. That does not appear to be the legal interpretation of events. The SCOTUS seems to be of the opinion that the defendant served his term, and was then found to still be mentally disturbed. Enough so that a civil commitment was ordered, granted, and upheld.

    I think that, in an extreme case, someone who was disturbed when they committed their initial crime but still found competent for trial could emerge from prison even more disturbed. They would then present a danger to society, possibly enough so that a separate civil commitment could be ordered. Each piece individually is allowed under law and even understandable, but the combination and the timing of this reek of a system that is eager to call everything abnormal a 'mental disease'. But, Title 18 section 4248 reads as legal, and does not appear unconstitutional, and the court found it such. That Title 18 Chapter 313 has existed this long seems to be the primary reason the Court allowed it to stand. Taken as part of that entire chapter, section 4248 does not seem that much further of a step for federal law.
  • by smashin234 ( 555465 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:39AM (#32249874) Journal

    "And even then there was little fear of that: the Northern government established a fort, with clear intent to threaten the South militarily, before the South did anything but talk. "

    You should really get your history straight.

    For one:

    Fort Sumter was built after the War of 1812, not to antagonize the South, and the battle erupted over resupplying the fort. To top that off, the South fired first...... And to set the record straight, the MAIN cause of the Civil War might have been state's rights, but slavery was still an issue no matter what you want to say. If it was a non-issue like you claim, why would the election of an abolitionist set the South off?

    Slavery was the straw that broke the camel's back.

    And for your results, you forget what this did to state's rights. This is where a lot of people today argue that in order to prevent secession in the future, the federal government took too much power away from the states...balance of power was inherent in the Constitution...

    And no matter what you want to claim, the Supreme Court has always been made to trump EVERY other court even state's decisions. Of course they can say something is constitutional. That is what they do every-time they rule that something is not un-constitutional. Double negative there... I know its confusing...

  • by fishexe ( 168879 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @04:02AM (#32249962) Homepage

    What country do you live in? I'm not familiar with any that actually properly recognizes human rights.

    It would help the discussion if you would define "properly". Or at least give us something to go on.

  • Re:Scope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by muridae ( 966931 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @04:12AM (#32250014)
    You aren't dense, that is what section 4248 says. But, section 4246 Hospitalization of a person due for release but suffering from mental disease or defect does allow for them to be determined competent to stand trial, but not still competent at time of release. See all of Chapter 313 [].
  • by muridae ( 966931 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @04:17AM (#32250034)

    The problem here is authorized power. The government can, and does, define its own rules to break the constitution. Civil commitment post term served adds to the punishment. Any claim that it does not is purest sophist nonsense. Therefore, it too is ex post facto, and UNAUTHORIZED

    Do you know what ex-post-facto means? Was this law enacted after the crime it is punishing? Or are you searching for the phrase habeas corpus. Slow down, take a breath, and get the words right. Until then, you just sound like you are ranting. That may count as insightful in your post above, but it just sounds silly to me.

  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @04:20AM (#32250046) Homepage Journal

    Even if you are right, you really do need to show your work on this one.

    I did show my work. Calder vs. Bull. Read it and weep. This issue is hugely simple. They're increasing the punishment after conviction. That's forbidden. Period. Don't make the mistake of thinking that because a judge somewhere has written that "it's ok because it's not punishment" that it actually IS ok, or that it actually ISN'T punishment. Ask the motherfucker who gets imprisoned for life without due process, ex post facto, if it's not punishment, and you'll get an accurate answer. Ask a judge, and you'll get a mouthful of shit. Ask a lawyer, and you'll get *shovelfulls* of shit.

    This type of law is absolutely forbidden. Period. There's no amount of rhetoric, sophist pin-ballet, or writing of "opinion" that will change that. Pointing and screaming "sex offender" doesn't change it either, as much as the media-terrified rank and file might wish it were so. It isn't even *just* ex post facto. It's wrong on many levels - what about due process? What about the prohibition against bills of attainder? This is mind-boggling, is what it is. The fact that SCOTUS let this one go through is the clearest possible indication that they are directly and knowingly violating their oaths. Reading the opinion of people who are violating their oaths is a complete and utter waste of time. They're not doing their jobs, and that's the very nicest thing I can say about them.

  • Re:Scope (Score:3, Insightful)

    by QCompson ( 675963 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @07:53AM (#32251048)

    One of whom had only a 37 month sentence for possession of child pornography. No mention that he had ever touched a child.

    That's the most frightening part for me. Someone has to explain just what warranted the decision that this guy is "sexually dangerous." Is the threat of him looking at more pictures so severe that he has to be kept locked up for the rest of his life at taxpayer expense?

  • by AndersOSU ( 873247 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @10:18AM (#32252444)

    I don't think it's a matter of sanity. It's quite possible that someone knows right from wrong, but is completely unable to control themselves. Therefore they're not insane, but they pose a risk to society. So what do we do? Do we have to let them out and wait for them to commit a crime? Or can we commit them?

    Fyngyrz seems to be hung up on the idea of punishment. The idea is that civil commitment isn't punishment, and isn't in response to a crime, but an unfortunately necessary side effect of severe mental illness. Now this might be a clever redefinition to skirt the law, or it might be totally allowed under the constitution.

    Consider, do you need to be convicted by a jury of your peers to be confined to quarantine if you have a dangerous infectious disease? Is quarantine of those with infectious diseases punishment? How does severe mental illness that poses a public safety risk different from physical illness that poses a public safety risk?

    We obviously have to be careful, because mental health is a whole lot less empirical than organic disease, but I don't think you can put a blanket ban on civil commitment for the mentally ill without doing away with legally enforced extra-judicial quarantine of other more corporeal illnesses.

  • by Late Adopter ( 1492849 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @11:18AM (#32253214)

    The Court does not reach or decide any claim that the statute or its application denies equal protection, procedural or substantive due process, or any other constitutional rights. Respondents are free to pursue those claims on remand, and any others they have preserved.

    SCOTUS let this one go because the defendant didn't make your arguments! I can tell nobody on Slashdot read the decision because nobody is arguing any of the questions that the case was actually decided on.

  • by DM9290 ( 797337 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @12:26PM (#32254218) Journal

    It's quite possible that someone knows right from wrong, but is completely unable to control themselves.

    A person who "completely unable to control" himself is also called an automaton, and is not criminally liable for their actions.

    They should never have been punished in the first place. But the state deemed them to have acted WILLFULLY, and therefore they are presumably able to WILLFULLY obey the law if they so choose. And as human beings they have a right to make that choice.

    We obviously have to be careful, because mental health is a whole lot less empirical than organic disease, but I don't think you can put a blanket ban on civil commitment for the mentally ill without doing away with legally enforced extra-judicial quarantine of other more corporeal illnesses.

    Civl commitment for the mentally ill is not the issue because we are dealing with someone who we have deemed to be mentally fit.

    A rational human being, with the ability to obey the law. And when their punishment is served, ALL RIGHTS must be restored.

    This is a matter of human rights, and human rights are not trumped by mere possibilities that some unspecified future act MIGHT take place.

    Its true that it would be pragmatic to lock people up forever if we are afraid of them. I have a long list of people I would love to see locked up. A few who are currently serving in office. But my fear of them doesn't give me the right to lock them up. And my certainty that they will break the law does not either.

    The standard of proof for punishment is guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. What this ruling means is that it is now ok to lock people up forever based on reasonable grounds that they MIGHT have a motive to commit a crime at any time in the future.

    This throws all conception of human rights out the window. The right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness no longer exists.

  • by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @01:38PM (#32255260)

    Regardless, punishment is increased after conviction and sentencing all the time. Violate the terms of your probation? Straight to the slammer. Start a fight in prison? You get sent to solitary. And so on.

    Apples and oranges.

    Going to prison because you violated your probation terms is not "increased punishment". When you're granted probation, you're given a deal: go on probation and follow the terms of it, OR be taken to prison. If you violate your probation terms, you're sent to prison, just as you were told you would be when you were given your sentence. There was no surprise; it was all spelled out for you in sentencing.

    Starting a fight in prison is totally different: it's a new crime, separate from the crime that got you sent to prison in the first place. Just because you're in prison doesn't mean there's no extra punishment for extra crimes; you can't commit new crimes and have zero punishment for them. Try killing a prison guard and see if you don't get extra punishment; of course you will.

    What's happening here is that someone has committed a crime, received a sentence in a trial, served out their sentence, and suddenly at the end is slapped with additional punishment that wasn't part of the original sentence, even though they haven't committed any new crimes.

    And how the hell is it a "civil" punishment if a person is being imprisoned. That's just plain bullshit. If you're being imprisoned against your will, that's something that can only happen for a criminal violation.

  • by DriedClexler ( 814907 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @01:44PM (#32255362)

    I don't think it's a matter of sanity. It's quite possible that someone knows right from wrong, but is completely unable to control themselves. Therefore they're not insane, but they pose a risk to society. So what do we do? Do we have to let them out and wait for them to commit a crime? Or can we commit them?

    The problem there that sticks out for me is that we don't really have a common, intermediate option of, "you have to be kept away from others, though you haven't done anything wrong [or have served your time]". The closest we have, like you mention, is quarrantining people. So, at the very least, for this kind of civil commitment, it should expressly be designed to *not* be punishment: basically, it should be like a well-furnished apartment that you just can't leave, but are otherwise allowed to interact with the world.

    Alternatively, there is putting them in an insane asylum. I don't know if this what's being done here, but again, there are minimum standards that this option should meet so that it doesn't effectively extend the punishment. Here, that standard should be that they actually try to treat the person's violent tendencies, with a serious committment to making him better so he can be released. But I'm guessing the state doesn't like the idea of possible release, so that's probably not happening either. Go fig.

  • by blackprint ( 1220318 ) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @03:16PM (#32256572) Homepage
    You sure do have a long winded way of saying absolutely nothing of value.

I've got a bad feeling about this.