The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld a ruling that Genarlow Wilson's 10-year prison sentence for having consensual oral sex with a fellow teenager is cruel and unusual, and has ordered him released from prison.
The state's highest court reached the decision today after a split 4-to-3 vote. Wilson was convicted of aggravated child molestation following a 2003 New Year's Eve party at a Douglas County motel room where he was videotaped having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl. Wilson was 17 at the time. He was also charged with raping another 17-year-old girl at the party but a jury acquitted him.
Chief Justice Leah Ward Sears wrote in the majority opinion saying the changes in the law "represent a seismic shift in the legislature's view of the gravity of oral sex between two willing teenage participants.'' Sears says the severe punishment makes "no measurable contribution to acceptable goals of punishment'' and that Wilson's crime did not rise to the ``level of adults who prey on children.''
“We thank You for his parents, who would not surrender in the face of tyranny,” Jesse Jackson said. “Now its morning time, and we feel a sense of joy that it’s morning time. We’ve endured the crucifixion, and now we see the stone is rolling away.”
Genarlow walked out of the prison a little after 5pm today to his awaiting mother and $9000 in scholarship money from Georgia Lawmakers and the Rainbow/PUSH organization.