Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

“The free man owns himself. He can damage himself with either eating or drinking; he can ruin himself with gambling. If he does he is certainly a damn fool, and he might possibly be a damned soul; but if he may not, he is not a free man any more than a dog.”     G.K. Chesterton

June 11, 2007

More Mandatory Minimums Madness: The “Sexual Predator” Edition, Part II

by Stephen Littau

Back in January, I wrote a post about the injustice that befell seventeen year old Genarlow Wilson who was sentenced to ten years in prison for engaging in oral sex with a fifteen year old girl (just a few months shy of sixteen) at a New Year’s party. Wilson was charged with aggravated child molesting. Wilson is now twenty-one and has served his first two years of his ten year sentence.

Today, Judge Thomas H. Wilson (no relation to Genarlow Wilson) ordered the release of Genarlow Wilson stating in his ruling: “The fact that Genarlow Wilson has spent two years in prison for what is now classified as a misdemeanor, and without assistance from this Court, will spend eight more years in prison, is a grave miscarriage of justice.”

Even though the Georgia legislature failed to make the law retroactive, Judge Wilson downgraded the charge from a felony to a misdemeanor because the legislature’s intent was to clarify what the state determined to be child molesting. The reason the legislature passed the bill was in direct response to the Genarlow Wilson case.

Despite pleas from Wilson’s lawyer to the Georgia Attorney General to not file an appeal, the Attorney General made the decision less than two hours after Judge Wilson’s ruling to file an appeal, effectively placing the judge’s ruling on hold and keeping Wilson in prison until his case can be heard by a higher court.

This begs the question: what possible purpose is being served by Genarlow Wilson spending ten years in prison for what most people agree is minor offense? Is it really fair to characterize a seventeen year old having sexual contact with someone less than two years younger than him as a child molester? Is this young man truly a threat to children if he is released back into society? Judge Wilson had it right: two years for this offense is enough. Hopefully, the next judge who hears this case will also be as reasonable.

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7 Comments

  1. I’m 60 years old and I’ve never set foot in Georgia. This story reminds me why I never wish to. Have folks in Georgia nothing better to do with their time and tax money than this?

    Comment by Rob Spooner — June 11, 2007 @ 2:30 pm
  2. Rob,

    To Georgia’s credit, the legislature has corrected this problem. From what I understand, many Georgians are outraged at the idea that this young man could be sent to jail for 10 years. Now it seems to be up to the courts to be the final arbitor of justice.

    Comment by Stephen Littau — June 11, 2007 @ 8:24 pm
  3. “Judge Wilson had it right: two years for this offense is enough.”

    Two years is two years to many. Why does this kid deserve any punishment?

    ps The parents need to punish the kid, yes, but the govt?

    Comment by thelibertypapersReader — June 12, 2007 @ 3:55 pm
  4. Why should the parents even be punishing him? How long do you ground someone or take away their playstation for having oral sex anyway? I think this guy is a little too old to be punished by his parents.

    I totally agree though that he never should have spent a day in jail.

    Comment by Aimee — June 12, 2007 @ 6:09 pm
  5. Oh my god, a junior is having sex with a freshman?!?!

    - Josh

    Comment by Wild Pegasus — June 13, 2007 @ 10:26 pm
  6. Poor guy, he didn’t do anything wrong.

    Comment by uhm — June 14, 2007 @ 2:37 pm
  7. nice article…

    medved…

    Trackback by keep writing — June 28, 2007 @ 10:47 am

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