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May 17, 2010
Thought Police

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.

A singularly appalling decision.

The law has to be the law. The law says that prisoners are released once they have served their sentences. You can't keep people locked up because you suspect they're thinking about committing another crime.

I've never liked that "civil commitment" thing--if you think laws for certain crimes don't call for long enough sentences, then fix those law. Don't just just pass a new one saying you can pick and choose and decide keep some people in prison forever, without additional due process.

If anyone's keeping score, this is another step on the slippery slope from democracy to totalitarianism.

Also--stop for a moment and just imagine how appalled I am to find myself having to argue for letting child molesters go free.

Posted by AnneZook at 10:28 AM


Comments

The problem is the successful use of insanity defenses, combined with the creeping medicalization of all non-"normal" thoughts.... Yes, I agree, but we're not going to win this on a civil liberties push alone.

Posted by: Ahistoricality at May 17, 2010 02:57 PM

I still believe that the problem is that our species has simply not evolved far enough past the hunter-gatherer stage to be able to deal with the complexity of the world we've built. It's no wonder the list of serious psychological ailments (by which I mean, problems of a scope or depth so as to interfere with the individual's ability to function) is expanding exponentially.

(Believe it or not, I tried four times to shorten that sentence.)

I still maintain that non-normative thoughts should not be punishable by law.

(And I would argue that in cases where an individual is psycho-sexually fixated on prepubescents, that really is a medical, a psychiatric problem. It's not like being blond or green-eyed, or six foot tall--you aren't "born" with a gene that predisposes you toward sex with eight year-olds.)

Posted by: Anne at May 18, 2010 04:12 PM

I still believe that the problem is that our species has simply not evolved far enough past the hunter-gatherer stage to be able to deal with the complexity of the world we've built.

That, too.

Posted by: Ahistoricality at May 19, 2010 09:15 AM