Supreme Court affirms criminal provision of Adam Walsh Act
The federal government can continue to detain "sexually dangerous" inmates even after they complete their prison terms, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today.

A provision of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act allows the civil commitment of sexually dangerous federal inmates. Four prisoners who were convicted of sex-related offenses and were kept in prison after finishing their sentences challenged the law as unconstitutional.

In a 7-2 decision, the court rejected the challenge. Congress has the power to "create federal criminal laws, to punish their violation, to imprison violators, to provide appropriately for those imprisoned and to maintain the security of those who are not imprisoned by who may be affected by the federal imprisonment of others," Justice Stephen G. Breyer wrote for the majority.

The ruling was limited to the question of whether the law violated the Necessary and Proper Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The court said the prisoners can challenge the law on other grounds.

Among other provisions, the Adam Walsh Act created a national sex offender registry that requires tribes to participate or cede authority to state governments. There was no tribal consultation prior to Congress passing the law.

Get the Story:
Court: Sexually dangerous can be kept in prison (AP 5/17)

Supreme Court Decision in US v Comstock:
Syllabus | Opinion [Breyer] | Concurrence [Kennedy] | Concurrence [Alito] | Dissent [Thomas]

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