Friday, October 26, 2007

Justice FINALLY for Genarlow Wilson

After spending more than two years behind bars, Genarlow Wilson is tonight a free man.

The New York Times reports:

The Georgia Supreme Court today ended the 10-year prison sentence of a man who was convicted in 2003 of having consensual oral sex with another teenager. The court said the harsh sentence violated the Constitution’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment.

In a 4-to-3 ruling, the court’s majority said the sentence was “grossly disproportionate” to the crime, which the justices said “did not rise to the level of culpability of adults who prey on children.”

The inmate, Genarlow Wilson, who is now 21, was 17 when he was caught on videotape having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl at a drug- and alcohol-fueled New Year’s Eve party in 2003. He was released this afternoon.

This law was deemed so harsh that Georgia legislators changed it a year after Wilson was sentenced. Unfortunately for Genarlow they did not make it retroactive to include him. So this honors student and star athlete has had years stolen from him, that he will never get back.

Writing for the majority in Friday’s 48-page opinion, Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears noted that changes to the law made after Mr. Wilson’s conviction “represent a seismic shift in the legislature’s view of the gravity of oral sex between two willing teenage participants.

“The severe felony punishment and sex offender registration imposed on Wilson make no measurable contribution to acceptable goals of punishment,” she wrote. [...]

Attorney General Thurbert E. Baker, in a written statement, indicated that he would not challenge the high court’s decision.

“I respectfully acknowledge the court’s authority to grant the relief that they have crafted in this case,” Mr. Baker said. “I hope the court’s decision will also put an end to this issue as a matter of contention in the hearts and minds of concerned Georgians and others across the county who have taken such a strong interest in this case.”

John Lewis, a Democratic congressman from Georgia, called the case “one of the greatest miscarriages of justice in Georgia in modern times.”

Earlier in the year it looked as though Wilson might be allowed to leave prison, but the AG appealed a lower court decision.

Tonight, Genarlow Wilson's nightmare is finally over. With the full recognition that this is much easier for me to say than it might be for Genarlow to do ... Let's hope this young man can move on with his life, and not allow what was once a promising future to be lost to him forever.



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sweet Jebus on a Ritz!

If oral sex between teens was a prison offense, at least half of the youth of today would be behind bars (and there's a movie plot for you!)