Genarlow Wilson left prison a free man Friday, He was the 17 year old high school home coming King given a ten year prison sentence for having consentual sex with another teenage. He also faced life labeled a sexual predator.

The Georgia Supreme Court ordered his immediate release, But it took two appeals and a couple years for them to acknowledge what everyone who isn’t a racist understands, A good kid lost a couple years because in Georgia, Jim Crow calls himself a republican these days.

The court ruled a 10-year prison term which allowed no parole and included lifetime registration as a sex offender was both cruel and unusual. The ruling is an unprecedented declaration of apparent prejudice by the prosecutor and several State Legislators.

Wilson was convicted of aggravated child molestation for having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17 years old. Wilson’s sentence was considered so beyond the pale the most puzzling aspect to the courts 4-3 decision may well be the fact it was such a close ruling.

Wilson a football star, top honor student and homecoming king was arrested in 2003. At the time of his trial, sexual intercourse between minors less than four years apart was a misdemeanor, even if one of them was younger than 16, which was Georgia’s age of consent.

But oral sex which is still considered sodomy in Georgia, allowed no provision for sexual behavior between consenting teenagers under 18, and remained a felony in all cases if either party was under 16.

That law changed in 2006 when when the distinction between types of intercourse between consenting teenagers was dropped. But Jim Crow, Oops, I mean republican legislators removed the customary retroactive clause in particular to prevent Wilson from being set free.

So Wilson sat in prison, studying for his SAT’s trusting that Justice would eventually prevail, he told reporters on his release Friday, Of never losing his faith in Justice, despite concerted efforts by prosecutors and State lawmakers to keep him locked away

In December, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected Wilson’s first appeal on the grounds that the Legislature had explicitly decided not to apply their legal changes in the case. In the decision, Justice Carol Hunstein wrote: “While I am very sympathetic to Wilson’s argument regarding the injustice of sentencing this promising young man with good grades and no criminal history to ten years in prison without parole and a lifetime registration as a sexual offender … this Court is bound by the Legislature’s determination.

A movement for new legislation also failed when Republicans in the State’s Senate stopped efforts to hold hearings on a bill that would have set him free.

Senate President Eric Johnson considered by many African Americans in Georgia to be an open racist went so far as to write an editorial which praised the legislature’s efforts to keep Wilson behind bars. Going so far as to declare “Life comes with accountability for our decisions. Genarlow Wilson could have selected different friends to hang with.” A remark considered by most to be a less then veiled reference to race.

And Friday’s decision signaled it was in fact the lawmakers apparent prejudice in singling Wilson out that made a difference in this ruling.

“We must acknowledge that Wilson’s crime does not rise to the level of culpability of adults who prey on children and that, for the law to punish Wilson as it would an adult, with the extraordinarily harsh punishment of ten years in prison without the possibility of probation or parole, appears to be grossly disproportionate to his crime,” wrote Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears.

When Wilson’s case first began to draw National attention, he was offered a lesser sentence in exchange for a guilty plea but refused. On Friday, a jubilant Wilson told reporters that while three years was a very long time to be in prison, He had no regrets for standing up and fighting for what he believed was justice.

Links to particulars of the story can be followed here and here The Post and Sentinel also offer articles.

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