Injustice Undone!

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Mom and Genarlow Wilson – Free Again!

He’s free! Genarlow Wilson was just 17 years old when committed the “crime” that obliterated what had been a promising future. Until then he was one of the good ones. Not perfect, mind you, but with a 3.2 GPA, solid credentials in high-school football and the admiration of his peers (he was homecoming king), well, Wilson was one black boy who was supposed to get through, despite the odds against him.

But then he committed the “crime,” the “crime” of being a young boy with raging hormones.: He had oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. Consensual oral sex. For that “crime,” Wilson was convicted of “child molestation” (by law wasn’t he a child, too?) and sent to a Georgia prison for 10 years without the prospect of parole, the mandatory sentence under state law.(FYI: The jury was not informed of the mandatory sentence until after it rendered its verdict.)

Now, what homie did was dumb. If I’d been the girls daddy, well, never mind. Dumb. But ten years?!

The conviction prompted outcries from many sources, including the sports media – which did so even though Wilson was not a superstar. A solid defensive back, he was getting interest from some schools but not college powerhouses. ESPN.COM wrote a particularly compelling piece called “Outrageous Injustice.”

In 2006, the law was changed to a misdemeanor with a maximum one-year sentence. Yet the law was also specifically designed NOT to be retroactive – thank you, Georgia – and Wilson continued to live being the barbed-wire fence of state custody.

Today, the injustice was finally undone. The George Supreme court ruled Wilson’s sentence was grossly disproportionate” to the “crime” committed, and ordered him released. He was freed this afternoon. Hallelujah. Although Wilson is now 21, perhaps he can regain the track that was ripped from beneath him by an unjust court. maybe he’ll go to college. Maybe he’ll even play ball. But more than anything, now he has a chance again. A chance that should have never been taken away.

But here’s something scary. The Supreme Court vote was 4-to-3. That three members of the George Supreme Court would have kept Genarlow Wilson behind bars – even after the law that sent him away was changed – is truly frightening. Thank you, Georgia.

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6 thoughts on “Injustice Undone!

  1. R. Pick says:

    I’m glad to see that young man set free, but I wonder how many young people remain behind bars—not because they are bad people, but because they are ignorant of the law. I have 16-year-old daughter, and when I question her about various laws, I’m flabbergasted at her responses. And when I show her the actual laws and corresponding sentences, she’s equally astonished. Parents cannot assume the schools are teaching their children the laws of the land, we must teach ourselves. We must also make sure they understand that laws must be followed even if they find the laws out dated and unfair.

    Although it’s great that this young man has been set free, it’s important to remember the ultimate goal is not to “get out of prison,” but to “avoid going to prison in the first place.” I hope Wilson enjoys every day of freedom, because they’re many others who may have to wait a years before they see the outside of a prison—not because they are bad people, but because they were ignorant of the law.

  2. CDR Wyndell Patterson says:

    Unfortunately, these kind of stories are far too common.

    My son is 28 years old. Bright kid. Never in trouble. Works 2 jobs. With my and his mother’s help, just purchased his first home for himself and girlfriend and one year old.
    This past spring, while moving back and forth from his old apartment to his new home, he allowed home of his “homies” to borrow his car overnight. The homie left about 3/4 of a lb of marijuana in the trunk. When my son was “routinely” pulled over a day or two later, he unhesitatingly (according to the police report) agreed to have the car searched where upon the grass was discovered much to his surprise.
    All this year, we have been fighting to keep him out of jail. Thus far, the procecuting attorney has offered his best plea bargin of 90 days in jail, probation and fine.
    Our lawyer and every legal family friend has vehemently warned us NOT TO GO TO TRIAL. I have since found out that going to trail in the 97% white county of Roanoke, Va. for a black man is tandamont to a guilty plea with automatic prison from 3-5 years. AUTOMATIC!
    Point is, our youth must realize that although we now educate together, play together, worship together, work together date and marry, we are not as one by any means.
    The current climate of freedom that this present generation takes for granted was hard fought for and in reality is not much more than a facade. There are still many areas in our great country where even at the highest level we as a people are still regarded as dangerous and unsuited for the “American dream”.
    Unfortunately, many of our athletes and celebrities reinforce that attitude by their actions as demonstrated in news headlines everyday.
    We have not yet reached the promise land of an equal playing field for all people in all matters. America loves to believe the myth that we have “overcome” the ignorance of our past. Case in point, 20 year old Mega Williams’ kidnap,rape and torture in West Virginia recently which by the way received relatively little mainstream press. Where was Bill O’reilly’s outrage! Why wasn’t Sean Hannity ranting!
    It’s 2007, but in far too many areas, if we are not very careful, we’ll easily receive the justice of 1967 and earlier. The generations behind must learn what we have always known. Just because we share as a nation on many fronts from the arts to business and politics and although great strides have been made, when times get tight because of many different circumstances and everybody is “up against it” or there’s some advantage to be gained or agenda to be put forth, many in power and authority still consider us “niggers”.

  3. blueollie says:

    This is why I cringe every time some idiot comes up with an idea for “mandatory sentencing”: it takes all discretion out of the equation.

    Another question: why wasn’t the female charged with a crime? Doesn’t it take two to tango?

  4. This case always reminds me of the historical nexus between the threat of black male sexuality and the law, whether courts or vigilante. It was beyond absurd, but not surprising, that this brother was behind bars. This too is as American as cherry pie.

  5. kevin says:

    I think I remember reading about this several months ago — perhaps it was the ESPN piece.

    It’s definitely hard to picture a white kid going to jail for 10 years for committing an act that has, sadly, become commonplace among teens in America today.

  6. Lee says:

    I think already know the answer to this, but forgot. Wasn’t the girl involved in this case white? Race was a clear factor in the decision to give this young man TEN YEARS in jail for this “crime”. I wasn’t that long ago that black men were beaten and/or hung from trees for SMILING at a white woman. That sounds crazy today, but it does not suprise me that3 judges on the Georgia Supreme Court would want this young man to serve the full 10 years. Some rednecks never change…

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