(CN) – The 4th Circuit struck down a recently enacted federal law that allows the government to keep inmates deemed “sexually dangerous” behind bars indefinitely.
A provision of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006 authorizes the federal government to keep a “sexually dangerous” person in custody even after he has completed his full prison sentence.
“The Constitution does not empower the federal government to confine a person solely because of asserted ‘sexual dangerousness’ when the government need not allege (let alone prove) that this ‘dangerousness’ violates any federal law,” Judge Gribbon Motz wrote.
The Virginia-based appeals court upheld U.S. District Judge W. Earl Brett’s conclusion that Congress had exceeded its authority in enacting the civil commitment law.
The law was challenged by four federal inmates who served their full prison terms, but were held in jail because the government deemed them “sexually dangerous.”