Genarlow Wilson Freed From Ten Year Sentence
If you believe in justice, the best news you are likely to hear today is this:
The Georgia Supreme Court on Friday ordered the release of Genarlow Wilson, the Douglas County teenager who has been serving a controversial 10-year sentence for consensual oral sex. The court's 4-3 decision upholds a Monroe County judge's ruling that the sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment under both the Georgia and U.S. constitutions.Wilson was caught in a bind because he was sentenced under a law (later changed) that imposed a ten year mandatory minimum for having consensual oral sex with a minor, even though she was only two years younger than Wilson, who was 17 at the time. Wilson's ordeal is chronicled in these TalkLeft posts.
The Georgia Supremes made the decision bullet-proof by concluding that the sentence was cruel and unusual under the Georgia Constitution. Even if Georgia were to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the federal constitutional holding, the independent state constitutional holding will continue to protect Wilson.
Wilson should be released from prison soon. He will presumably need to be resentenced, but the court will no longer be bound by the 10 year mandatory minimum, and should be guided by the Georgia legislature's recent determination that the crime shouldn't be punished by more than a year in jail -- a sentence that Wilson has finished serving.
Update: (TL): The court's opinion is here (pdf.)
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