Back in January I gave my opinion on Genarlow Wilson, a 17 year old high school student in Georgia who was found guilty of having consensual oral sex with another teen and sentenced to 10 years in prison. Here is the transcript, dated January 25, 2007 --
You can read more about it HERE, but in short, Genarlow was at a party and received oral sex from a 15 year old classmate. In Georgia, the law was a bit outdated you see, it was a misdemeanor for teenagers less than three years apart to have sexual intercourse, but a felony for the same kids to have oral sex. Instead of a slap on the wrist, Wilson was facing major time, and the "sexual predator" tag that goes along with it.
Unlike two of the other players charged with Wilson who plea'd to lessor charges, Wilson did not want the tag, and what being a sexual predator brings along with it. He was found guilty by a jury, who later was incensed when they learned that the minimum sentence was 10-years without possibility of parole.
Even better, Georgia has sinced changed the law to include oral-sex in the misdemeanor, but did not allow the law to work retro-actively to past cases. In short, Wilson will spend the next 8 years in prison for a crime that isn't a crime anymore, and never really was meant to include 17 and 15 year-olds, but to punish pedophiles.
I understand that the law is the law, but at the same time we watch criminals given leniency all the time. Drug dealers, murderers and the like are set free all the time. Everyone in this case knows Wilson has been wronged, but no-one will help. It is a true breach of justice.
If you'd like to learn more about the case, head over to Wilson Appeal.com. I am not passing my beliefs on to anyone, I just ask that if you read the details of this case you might want to sign the petition. Georgia law-makers are in the process of looking at a revision to the law that would allow Wilson's legal team to get Wilson free'd.
Please let me know your thoughts on this matter, and thanks for letting me rant!
Today, more than two years after Wilson was sent to prison, the Georgia Supreme Court has ordered Wilson be freed on the grounds that his sentence was "cruel and unusual punishment". From the AP --
The court ruled 4-3 that Genarlow Wilson's 10-year sentence was cruel and unusual punishment.
Wilson, 21, was convicted of aggravated child molestation following a 2003 New Year's Eve party at a Douglas County hotel room where he was videotaped having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. He was 17 at the time.
Wilson was acquitted of raping another 17-year-old girl at the party.
The 1995 law Wilson violated was changed in 2006 to make oral sex between teens close in age a misdemeanor, similar to the law regarding teen sexual intercourse. But the state Supreme Court later upheld a lower court's ruling which said that the 2006 law could not be applied retroactively.
Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears wrote in the majority opinion that the changes in the law "represent a seismic shift in the legislature's view of the gravity of oral sex between two willing teenage participants."
Sears wrote that the severe punishment makes "no measurable contribution to acceptable goals of punishment" and that Wilson's crime did not rise to the "level of adults who prey on children."
The state Supreme Court had turned down Wilson's appeal of his conviction and sentence, but the justices agreed to hear the state's appeal of a Monroe County judge's decision to reduce Wilson's sentence to 12 months and free him. That judge had called the 10-year sentence a "grave miscarriage of justice."
Dissenting justices wrote that the state Legislature expressly stated that the 2006 change in the law was not intended to affect any crime prior to that date.
They said Wilson's sentence could not be cruel and unusual because the state Legislature decided that Wilson could not benefit from subsequent laws reducing the severity of the crime from a felony to a misdemeanor.
They called the decision an "unprecedented disregard for the General Assembly's constitutional authority."
It's good to know that there are times justice can be served.