Congress may make it a crime for federal inmates to commit sexual assaults while being held in state or local facilities.
United States v. Mujahid, 2015 BL 276994, 9th Cir., No. 11-30276
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the 2006 expansion of federal jurisdiction to cover state or local facilities housing federal prisoners falls within Congress's power. The expansion does not usurp state authority, and is within Congress's power to enact laws that are "necessary and proper" to ensure that federal prisoners are incarcerated in an orderly and safe manner.
The necessary and proper clause allows Congress to enact laws that are rationally related to the implementation of its enumerated powers, the court ruled. The court determined that the expansion of jurisdictional reach of 18 U.S.C. §§ 2241 and 2244 to include sex offenses occurring "in any prison, institution, or facility in which persons are held in custody by direction of or pursuant to a contract or agreement with the Attorney General," indicating that this is a modest addition to a long history of regulation in this area.
The court continued, "[a]lthough the state courts already criminalize this type of conduct, Congress didn't overreach merely by implementing a system that is "concurrent and complementary."
“Congress has long been involved in legislating the terms of federal imprisonment,” and this extension is reasonably adapted to Congress's power to act as a “responsible federal custodian,” the court said.