The 5th Amendment of the US Constitution states:
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.
Now I always thought I knew what that meant.
The first part in bold basically says you cannot be tried twice for the same crime or for that matter be punished twice for the same crime.
The second part in bold I would also think to be self explanatory. Before you can be punished for a crime there must be due process, ie a trial.
Given that, imagine my shock to find out that I'm wrong. This past Monday seven Supreme Court judges ruled that the federal government could in fact take someone who has served the time sentenced for their crime and hold them indefinitely without any further trial.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday the federal government has the power to keep some sex offenders behind bars indefinitely after they have served their sentences if officials determine those inmates may prove "sexually dangerous" in the future.
"The federal government, as custodian of its prisoners, has the constitutional power to act in order to protect nearby (and other) communities from the danger such prisoners may pose," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the 7-2 majority.
For the record the two opposing justices were Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia.
The 83 people currently being held behind their original sentencing include people sentenced for sexual abuse of minors to possession of child porn.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of increasing punishments on sexual predators to life in prison or even giving them the death penalty but once you dole out a sentence and that sentence is served, that's it. You don't go back because of something they might do in the future and use that as justification to hold them indefinitely. That's right out of Minority Report right there. If someone was given only 20 years and even if we all disagree that 20 years is long enough, once those 20 years are up that person should be free until they have done something to cause them to be put away again (saying they don't get a bullet between the eyes in the act of committing that crime).
One additional point that should be considered is that unlike the terrorists caught on the field of battle being held at Gitmo prison, these are US Citizens who are entitled to Constitutional rights. Where is the liberal outrage on this one?