Courts Crime and Punishment Criminal Justice Juvenile Justice Social Justice

Genarlow Wilson – HE’S OUT!!!


The California fires are now estimated to cost in the billions
, George Bush’s administration continues to poke sticks at Iran (then claims it’s a only negotiating ploy)….but there is one genuinely good piece of news today:

The Georgia Supreme Court ruled earlier today that Genarlow Wilson’s ten year sentence for having oral sex with another teenager (he was 17, she was 15), is indeed cruel and unusual, and the court ordered him released.

This afternoon, his mom drove over to the prison with a nice bunch of new clothes for her about to be released kid. Now he’s OUT! And, as you can see from the ABC photo above, his mom looks mighty happy about it!

(Earlier WLA stories on the subject here, here, here, here and here.)

Good going Georgia Supremes! (At least, the four of you that voted in favor of release.)

Here are some clips from the NY Times story.

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.”

…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.

Very nicely said, Justice Ward.

NOTE: Chapeau Tip to commenter Woody for snapping me out of my deadline-ridden, post-fire haze long enough to notice this news.

(photo from ABC)


  • A great note on which to begin a weekend. Congratulations, Genarlow. Best wishes to ya, kid!

  • Not to make light of these types of cases, but oh how times have changed. Back in my high school days a 30 year old English teacher was “sleeping” with a wrestler on our wrestling team. The wrestling coach and the whole team knew about the “affair”, we were all jealous and proud of the “victimized” student.

  • To those people who criticized every resident of Georgia for the sentence and many for just living in the South, now, maybe, you can see that the Georgia legislature passed the sex offender law with good intentions and without anticipating an exceptional case, Wilson violated that law, Wilson was arrested because the police had to do it with the video in existence, the jury had no choice but to find him guilty, the judge was obligated to give him the sentence required by the law in effect at that time, the legislators amended the law going forward to avoid future problems but properly left it up to the court system to undo previous sentences that might be unreasonable but without opening the prison doors to serious offenders who deserved them, in accordance with his rights the case was appealed by Wilson and won in another court, it was re-appealed by the black Ga Atty General based solely upon legal considerations and precedence, the case went to the GA Supreme Court where the facts and circumstances were considered, and Wilson was released for the proper legal reasons. The process took time, the system had weaknesses and acted slow, just like it does for death penalty cases, but it ultimately came up with the right solution–legally.

    Now, you emotional bunch of bigots who automatically associated this with Southern lynchings, we’ll anticipate your apologies to the State and its people. But, knowing the class of people who made those charges, we’ll never hear any.

  • Now, you emotional bunch of bigots…

    Slung at the entire readership of Witness LA, after being credited for the story by the blog’s mistress.

    Makes my head ache.

  • It wasn’t a note to Celeste. It was a note to those who should know who they are. Asking forgiveness helps to get rid of headaches.

  • “L A Draws Up a New Anti Gang Plan,” Daily News. Councilmember Tony Cardenas, head of the City’s Ad Hoc Gang Prevention Committee, admits they have some $78 million at their disposal, over 60 groups involved, but less than $4 million is currently going to hard-core gang reduction, the rest to “soft” programs like recreation — fine and well, but a different area altogether. Hard-core intervention includes tattoo removal, job referral, hands-on help from former gang members etc.

    Jeff Carr, the alleged gang czar appointed 9 mos. ago but rarely seen, puts in his two cents that they are working together to come up with some sort of “accountability,” admitting that most of how the the money is used and some of the interventionist groups have come under fire.

    In three months, Laura Chick will finally be done with her tax audit, and then everyone can get a clearer picture. Janice Hahn meanwhile continues to agitate for her gang tax which will hit only homeowners, although she has no plan for it, and Chick has advised her to wait for the big picture.

    (But like the “more tax” contingent on this blog and elsewhere, the ones who will inevitably pop up to attack me for being too reticent to spend other people’s money, some people of that generation and ilk are certain more taxes no matter what, plan or no plan, are always the answer. Janice is trying to show she’s responsive to the shooting of Cheryl Green, a black girl shot at random by a Hispanic gang out to kill anyone black — but there are so many cases all over the city, the big picture has been lacking.)

    Still, I’m very encouraged that everyone from Cardenas, Carr and Connie Rice to Baca and Bratton, and the Council Public Safety Committee, are all on board to try to coordinate efforts and funds. For once, it seems they might actually be headed toward doing what works, not what is most expedient politically for each of them individually.

    Anyway, Celeste, this is a suggestion for a thread (knowing some of the inevitable responses, but still). You may want to weigh in on your experiences on what works.

  • Thanks, Maggie. Good suggestion. I’ve had a copy of the plan for a month or so now, and have been discussing it with folks. But I didn’t notice that Cardinas had released it on Friday.

    I will definitely post about it next week, after finish my deadline that, conincidentally, is dealing with precisely these issues.

    But again thanks a lot for the heads up about the DN article!

  • Prosecutorial abuse is a scary prospect in any criminal matter. Several years ago my mom was the foreperson on the retrial of a man who was convicted for rape in Madison County, AL. He was a prisoner convicted of a nonviolent crime and was on a work release program near where the victim was raped.

    She said that she was a virgin prior to the rape. She had also contracted an STD as a result of the rape, but prosecutors withheld this information from the defense. The accused did not have any STD’s and was convicted on the testimony of the victim.

    The acquittal on retrial was fairly rapid. The prosecutor had withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense. My mom said that the worst aspect of this was the victim’s realization that the perpetrator was still out there – all because the prosecutor wanted to pin the crime on someone and not necessarily the person who did the crime.

  • Randy,

    Good point. (And horrible story.) Due to determinate sentencing and some of the sentencing enhancement laws, the power that used to be invested in judges, is now in the hands of the prosecutors, which is not how the system was ever intended to work. That combined with just straight out misconduct, as in this case you mention, has lead to some horrific miscarriages of justice.

    I think withholding exculpatory evidence—as in this and the Duke case— should land one in prison.

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