Justice For Genarlow Wilson?

Back on January 25th, I wrote about Genarlow Wilson, a 17-year-old who was sentenced to 10 years in jail for receiving consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old. Wilson’s case was particularly grating because of some bizarre quirks of Georgia law,

“When he was a senior in high school, he received oral sex from a 10th grader. He was 17. She was 15. Everyone, including the girl and the prosecution, agreed she initiated the act. But because of an archaic Georgia law, 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.

Afterward, the state legislature changed the law to include an oral sex clause, but that doesn’t help Wilson. In yet another baffling twist, the law was written to not apply to cases retroactively, though another legislative solution might be in the works. The case has drawn national condemnation, from the “Free Genarlow Wilson Now” editorial in The New York Times to a feature on Mark Cuban’s HDNet.

…Yet no one will do anything to free him, passing responsibility around like a hot potato. The prosecutors say they were just doing their job. The Supreme Court says it couldn’t free him because the state legislature decreed the new law didn’t apply to old cases, even though this case was the entire reason the new law was passed.”

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At the time, I said what happened to Wilson “may be the law, but it’s not justice.”

Well, the good news is that it may not be “the law” anymore either because Wilson’s sentence has been voided,

“A Georgia judge on Monday voided a 10-year sentence given to a 17-year-old teenage male who was convicted of having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl.

Monroe County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson voided Genarlow Wilson’s sentence and dropped it to misdemeanor aggravated child molestation with a 12-month sentence, plus credit for time served. Under the new ruling, he will not be required to register as a sex offender.

“I just feel like a miracle happened,” Genarlow Wilson’s mother, Juannessa Bennett, said Monday.

Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker said Monday afternoon that he had filed notice of appeal, arguing that Georgia law does not give a judge authority to reduce or modify the sentence imposed by the trial court. He said he would seek an expedited ruling from the Georgia Supreme Court.

Wilson defense lawyer B.J. Bernstein said she believes Baker is just trying to stop Wilson’s immediate release.

…Wilson’s original sentence, for aggravated child molestation, was widely criticized on the grounds it was grossly disproportionate to the crime. State lawmakers later passed a law to close the loophole that led to the 10-year term.

“The fact that Genarlow Wilson has spent two years in prison for what is now classified as a misdemeanor, and without assistance from this Court, will spend eight more years in prison, is a grave miscarriage of justice,” the judge wrote.”

I’m not sure what the Attorney General’s reasoning here is for filing an appeal. Maybe he’s worried that this could set some kind of bad precedent. But, Genarlow Wilson doesn’t belong in jail and he shouldn’t have to stay in prison while this legal wrangling goes on. Justice was far overdue in this case and let’s hope that because of Baker’s actions, it doesn’t end up being delayed any further.

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