Sexually Dangerous Prisoners Can Be Held Indefinitely

Law Firm Newswire



Lakeland, FL (Law Firm Newswire) September 15, 2015 – Can sexually dangerous inmates be held past their release date? Yes, they may be held indefinitely despite the end of a completed prison sentence.

The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, passed by President Bush in 2006, gave the government authority to hold sexually dangerous federal prisoners for an indefinite period of time.

In United States v. Graydon Earl Comstock (, Comstock examined whether or not the federal government had the power to hold inmates indefinitely or if it had gone beyond the powers granted by the Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court decision was 7-to-2, decreeing sexually dangerous convicts may be held indefinitely.

On one side of the argument is that holding sexually dangerous prisoners indefinitely is justified on the grounds of public safety. On the other side of the argument is a spectre of a Congress going too far with restricting rights and freedoms.

“There is no provision in the Constitution that allows Congress to indefinitely hold sexually dangerous inmates,” said Lakeland, Florida, criminal defense attorney, Thomas C. Grajek. “And as such, it could be argued that indefinitely holding someone past the end of their served sentence is in violation of their constitutional rights.”

When the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act came into action, four federal prisoners, charged variously with sexually abusing minors to possession of child pornography, challenged it. They had already completed their sentences but had not been released, as jailers felt they were at high risk to offend. The First Court of Appeal in Richmond, Virginia, agreed with the inmates and indicated Congress had overstepped their boundaries.

The Supreme Court overturned the ruling and upheld the law on appeal.

The law relating to indefinitely holding prisoners dictates that two conditions must be met for an offender to be deemed sexually dangerous: a court must receive convincing proof that either a mental disease or other problem prevents the inmate from stopping themselves from committing sexually violent acts or child molestation if they were released; and that the state where the inmate is incarcerated and/or the state where the individual was brought to trial do not want custody of the inmate.

In practice, the law indicates that the safety of the public from sexual predators takes precedence over whether or not a sexually dangerous offender remains in prison at the end of his or her sentence. The legal niceties of this conundrum are troubling, as there is always the possibility that this may apply to other offenders for other offenses.

“In any situation dealing with a sexual offense, never try to go it alone through the criminal trial process. Always speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney,” indicated Grajek.