In a landmark 7-2 decision, the justices declared that a federal law allowing federal prisoners deemed "sexually dangerous" to be held even after they have served out their original sentences is constitutional.
The Court said Congress does have the power to keep such dangerous offenders out of society indefinitely.
Justice Clarence Thomas dissented arguing that Congress went too far, and nothing in the Constitution permits this kind of extended confinement.
Re•cid•i•vism is defined as a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior; especially : relapse into criminal behavior. Back in the 1970's I was involved in a study by the Federal Bureau of Prisons to review the behavior of federal criminals and the impact of rehabilitation on the recidivism rates of various types of crime.
At the time there was debate as to what types of crimes could be rehabilitated and whether certain types of criminal behavior like sexual predators, abusers and rapists who repeated crimes when released from prison could ever fit the mold of a criminal who paid their debt to society and could be rehabilitated.
I was among the advocates that certain criminals were possessed by evil, like a genetic coding, and no form of incarceration would result in reforming the warped mind of the abuser. They would be a threat to society every time they left jail and the only viable and safe solution for protecting Americans was to keep these demented criminals out of society permanently.
This could only be accomplished through life terms without parole or a special status that gave law enforcement the right to have them permanently imprisoned regardless of the sentence handed down by the courts. Over the years thousands of Americans, especially women and children, have been murdered and many thousands more permanently scarred psychologically by being victims to these heinous predators.
In areas where serial predators roamed fear was widespread and affected the quality of life of all people who lived by the law.
This ruling denies no one due process as those who will be designated as "sexually dangerous" have had numerous opportunities to avoid such a fate or have been so evil as to demonstrate they cannot exist in a society of laws. Too often judges have refused to impose maximum prison sentences or the states have not made the sentences long enough for repeat offenders of particularly vicious crimes.
It is a long overdue ruling to recognize that the argument "cruel and unusual punishment" does not apply to those who repeatedly deny other people the right to a life free from sexual predators. The fact both liberal and conservative Supreme Court justices agreed is a major victory for the people.