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View Full Version : Court: Teen-sex sentence 'cruel and unusual' punishment


Bijoux0021
Oct 26th, 2007, 03:01 PM
http://www.cnn.com/2007/US/law/10/26/wilson.freed/index.html

Court: Teen-sex sentence 'cruel and unusual' punishment

ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- The Georgia Supreme Court on Friday ordered that Genarlow Wilson be released from prison in a 4-3 decision, ruling that his sentence for a teen sex conviction was cruel and unusual punishment.

http://i20.tinypic.com/hx6xdv.jpg
Genarlow Wilson's case received national attention and led to changes in Georgia law.


Wilson was convicted in 2005 of having oral sex with a consenting 15-year-old girl when he was 17.

He has served two years in prison.

Wilson's attorney, B.J. Bernstein, told CNN that he can be released as soon as a Monroe County judge issues a new order and serves it to the attorney general. Bernstein added that she called the prison warden, who informed Wilson of his pending release.

"We want him home," Bernstein said. "In the end it shows this: That the courts can work, the courts do work."

At the time of Wilson's conviction, Georgia law made the crime punishable by 10 years in prison. The law was later amended, making such conduct "punishable by no more than a year in prison and no sex offender registration," the court noted.

But those changes were not made retroactive, so they did not apply to Wilson.

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Georgia Supreme Court's order
The Georgia high court upheld the decision of the Monroe County judge. In a 48-page opinion, the court said the "severe" punishment Wilson received and his mandated sex offender registration make "no measurable contribution to acceptable goals of punishment."

Friday's decision came after a protracted legal battle that has galvanized international attention and drawn the involvement of civil rights leaders. Partly as a result of Wilson's conviction, state legislators changed the law to make such consensual conduct between minors a misdemeanor, rather than a felony.

The case revolves around a New Year's Eve party outside Atlanta in 2003 when Wilson engaged in the sex act with the girl.

Under a now-changed Georgia law, Wilson was convicted of felony aggravated child molestation. He was acquitted on a second charge of raping a 17-year-old girl -- who prosecutors maintained was too intoxicated at the party to consent.

The 10-year sentence was mandatory under the law.

In the decision, Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears wrote that changes in the law "represent a seismic shift in the legislature's view of the gravity of oral sex between two willing teenage participants."

"Although society has a significant interest in protecting children from premature sexual activity, we must acknowledge that Wilson's crime does not rise to the level of culpability of adults who prey on children," the court's majority found.

"For the law to punish Wilson as it would an adult, with the extraordinarily harsh punishment of 10 years in prison without the possibility of probation or parole, appears to be grossly disproportionate to his crime," the majority opinion concluded.

The dissent noted that the Georgia Legislature had made clear that the changes in the law were not to be applied retroactively.

Justice George Carley, writing for the dissenting justices, said, "The General Assembly made the express decision that he cannot benefit from the subsequent legislative determination to reduce the sentence for commission of that crime from felony to misdemeanor status."

The majority countered that it was not applying the 2006 amendment retroactively, but instead factoring that "into its determination that Wilson's punishment is cruel and unusual," the court said in a news release.

The court said this kind of decision is unusual: "The majority opinion points out that this court rarely overturns a sentence on cruel and unusual grounds. But twice before, it did so following a legislative change."

Monroe County Superior Court judge ruled that Wilson's punishment was cruel and unusual and voided it on constitutional grounds.

The judge reduced the sentence to one year and said Wilson should not be put on Georgia's sex offender registry, as the old law required.

Wilson's jubilant attorneys had hoped that ruling would free him from state prison. But shortly after it was handed down, Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker announced he would appeal the decision, a move that kept Wilson behind bars.

The high court said unanimously that the decision to deny Wilson bail was correct.

Wilson's plight drew pleas for his release, including from former President Carter, an ex-Georgia governor, and even some of the jurors who convicted him.

Legislation that would make the change in Georgia's child molestation law retroactive to free Wilson failed to win approval earlier this year.

Infiniti2001
Oct 26th, 2007, 03:16 PM
Finally!!! Hopefully now he can salvage what's left of his life.

kiwifan
Oct 26th, 2007, 05:54 PM
Bout time.

Now hopefully he'll make something positive out of all the goodwill that has come his way through this horrible incident. :)

sfselesfan
Oct 26th, 2007, 05:56 PM
The district attorney who prosecuted him should have to serve the remainder of his sentence...in the alternative I nominate Nancy Grace.

Good news.

SF

Williamsser
Oct 26th, 2007, 06:03 PM
The law doesn't differentiate between a 60 year old man having sex with a 5 year old girl, and a 17 year old man having sex with a 15 year old girl. That's why child molestation laws are tough to pass.

mykarma
Oct 26th, 2007, 09:05 PM
Finally!!! Hopefully now he can salvage what's left of his life.

"The release of Genarlow Wilson by the Georgia Supreme Court is a significant victory in redressing the reckless and biased behavior of the criminal justice system that now operates in many states across the union," the Rev. Al Sharpton said.
"The bad news is that his young life was so unfairly interrupted with time that no state court can recover for him," Sharpton added. "This is why the Justice Department and federal government must review state courts that willfully and almost without pause violate the civil rights of people, particularly young black men around this country."
Wilson was an honor student, a football star and his high school's homecoming king before his conviction."

He had all types of Ivory League schools contacting him for football scholarships and our justice system didn't care about ruining his life. The girl admitted that she initiated the sex and they still gave him 10 years. I am so happy that the Rev. Sharpton and Michael Baisden among many others gave this the attention that it deserved.
I can't believe that the decision was only 4-3 to overturn his conviction even though the law was changed because of the uproar regarding this case. If there was not a scheduled march in Atlanta like they had in Jena La. this kid might probably still be in prison.

ico4498
Oct 26th, 2007, 09:13 PM
Wilson's attorney, B.J. Bernstein ...

mykarma
Oct 26th, 2007, 10:16 PM
Wilson's attorney, B.J. Bernstein ...
Just saw Genarlow on television and he said he was treated well behind bars and people looked after him. He also said that he had been studying for his SAT. I really hope he's able to attend the college that he desires.

Pureracket
Oct 26th, 2007, 10:19 PM
The law doesn't differentiate between a 60 year old man having sex with a 5 year old girl, and a 17 year old man having sex with a 15 year old girl. That's why child molestation laws are tough to pass.
I see the legal system had somewhat "tied hands" given the way the law had been written, but, especially after the local appeals decision went against the State, how the hell could they not at least have negotiated (GA AG) to have him released pending that appeal to the Supreme Court? This strikes me as punitive, beyond ignorant, and quite likely racist...

Thank heavens, he is freed.

Pureracket
Oct 26th, 2007, 10:20 PM
Just saw Genarlow on television and he said he was treated well behind bars and people looked after him. He also said that he had been studying for his SAT. I really hope he's able to attend the college that he desires.
He should probably pledge Alpha in order to keep a positive surrounding. :-)

mykarma
Oct 26th, 2007, 10:25 PM
He should probably pledge Alpha in order to keep a positive surrounding. :-)
Yeah right.

Pureracket
Oct 26th, 2007, 10:27 PM
Yeah right.
:angel:

Don't hate....lol.

mykarma
Oct 26th, 2007, 11:13 PM
:angel:

Don't hate....lol.
I'm not hating, at least not much. :lol:.

Here's the link to a video interview.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21488038/

Black Mamba.
Oct 27th, 2007, 01:48 AM
Finally I've been following his story from the beginning

Volcana
Oct 27th, 2007, 02:06 AM
The district attorney who prosecuted him should have to serve the remainder of his sentence...in the alternative I nominate Nancy Grace.
Definitely Nancy Grace. The prosecutor WAS within what was then the letter of the law, however he applied it.

skanky~skanketta
Oct 27th, 2007, 02:20 AM
it really sucks that this happened to the guy. good student, so much potential. UGH!

mykarma
Oct 27th, 2007, 02:32 PM
it really sucks that this happened to the guy. good student, so much potential. UGH!
I know he won't have to register as a sex offender but will he be considered a felon. If so, I hope his sentenced will be wiped clean, if not he'll still have difficulty finding a job. As soon as potential companies do a background check his resume will go into the circular basket called a trashcan. There are so many other young mens lives ruined because of stupid sentences like this one and the Jena 6. The difference is these guys didn't get the publicity that this young man got.

BTW, he is "show nuff" fine. :kiss: