May 19, 2007

Why is Genarlow Wilson in Prison?

Genarlow Wilson sits in prison despite being a good son, a good athlete, high-school homecoming king and high school student with a 3.2 GPA. He never had any criminal trouble. On the day he was to sit for the SAT, at seventeen years old, his life changed forever. A number of the kids at the party, including Genarlow were arrested. In Douglas County he was accused of inappropriate sexual acts at a News Year’s Eve party. Turns out that there was a videotape of the party showing quite a bit of consensual sex taking place.

The other kids involved made plea deals with the prosecution in exchange for lesser prison time. In all, six kids with previous criminal records, except for Genarlow, went to jail. A jury acquitted Genarlow of the allegation of Rape but convicted him of Aggravated Child Molestation for a voluntary act of oral sex with another teenager. He was 17, and she was 15.

Along with the label "child molester" which will require him throughout his life to be on a sexual offender registry, Genarlow received a sentence of eleven years — a mandatory 10 years in prison and 1 year on probation. Two odd factoids for your consideration:

  1. On July 1st, the new Romeo and Juliet law went into effect in Georgia for any other teen that engages in consensual sexual acts. That change in the law means that no teen prosecuted for consensual oral sex could receive more than a 12 months sentence or be required to register as a sex offender. Genarlow has been incarcerated since February 25, 2005. Had this law been in effect when Genarlow Wilson was arrested he would not now be in jail.
  2. Georgia imposes a lesser penalty on full blown intercourse between minors than for oral sex between minors. If Genarlow had gone ahead and went all the way, he would have only been facing a year in jail.
Yesterday, there were some remarkable developments in the case. Genarlow Wilson was finally freed by a judge. The ridiculous sentencing was overturned after the state of Georgia had already wasted two years of this young man's life. It seemed that the nightmare was over and this young black brother could finally get on with his life.

Yet moments later Georgia District Attorney Thurbert Baker (aka, Uncle Tom or house negro) faxed the celebrating family of young Mr. Wilson that he was appealing the verdict.

As Monroe County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson stated in his decision to free Genarlow Wilson, "If this court or any court cannot recognize the injustice of what has occurred here, then our court system has lost sight of the goal our judicial system has always strived to accomplish....If any case fits into the definitive limits of a miscarriage of justice, surely this case does."

It is long past time for this farce to end.

I encourage all villagers to contact Georgia Governor Sonny Purdue and demand that Thurbert Baker's decision to appeal be overturned. Click here to send him a message. When the form asks what is your message choose "other" (the last category) and then type in the box below it "Genarlow Wilson."
For additional information, contact Genarlow’s attorney:

The Bernstein Firm
BJ Bernstein
621 North Avenue, NE, Building E
Atlanta, Georgia 30308
phone: 404-522-1200
fax: 404-810-9092

The Electronic Village came late to this process. Others in the Afrosphere have blogged on this issue before including: Skeptical Brotha, Jack and Jill Politics, Oliver Willis, and Francis Holland.

Well Villagers --> what say u?


Homeland Colors said...

I wish that this was atypical of our justice system but it really isn't. Prosecuters who are more concerned with their careers than justice do a lot of damage to a lot of people's lives. Thanks for the post.

p.s. The A.G. proves that just cause you're Black doesn't mean you're a brother.

Keith said...

Hey Villager.

Great post. To see a brother decide to appeal this thing makes my stomach turn, and calling him an Uncle Tom is being too kind. Is he one of those Religious Right fanatics? Sounds like.

Villager said...

Homeland Colors - Amen to your statement about "just cause you are Black doesn't mean you are a brother"! I hope that this is resolved in a logical manner shortly. Of course, the whole thing would be moot if homeboy wasn't engaged in group sex at a New Year's Eve party ... but, that is another story for a different day!

Keith - Thank you sharing the shade under our baobob tree this morning! I don't know if the AG is religious right .. actually, I don't know if he is dem or repub. I do know that he is W-R-O-N-G for doing what he's doing.

peace, Villager

Eddie G. Griffin said...

Thank you Village for giving us a way to get active.

Natalie said...

This is simply a disgrace. I can't believe that anyone would want to keep this young man in jail. Why keep a young brother with a chance to make something of himself locked away?

Villager said...

Eddie - Any blog can talk. AfroSpear blogs need to provide action-oriented steps that our readers can take to improve our communities. That is the true power of the AfroSpear (IMHO). Anyhow, thanks for the visit.

Natalie - It makes no sense. On the flip side ... it makes no sense for 17-year old boys and 15-year old girls to be at an unsupervised (evidently) party on New Year's eve. While the punishment in no way fits the crime ... it would help if we didn't put ourselves in position to be punished in the first place.
Just a thought...

peace, Villager

Natalie said...

Yes, it would help but is it practical? I was at plenty of unsupervised parties at that age. It's what high school kids do. They will find a way. It doesn't make them bad people.

Eddie G. Griffin said...

I try to teach my kids self-defensive living, that includes not being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, caught in the wrong position. Young boy friend and grilfriends are going to be tempted to engage in sex. It's a sin, but not a crime.

Villager said...

Natalie - I dunno ... this sounds like it was a house party, which means that someone's parents should have been in the joint. Anyhow, the penalty for teen-age sex shouldn't be 2+ years in prison. On that we can all agree.

peace, Villager

Rosemarie said...

Ditto! Eddie says it best.

Villager said...

Rosemarie - Asante sana for your visit!

peace, Villager

Amazing Gracie said...

Oh, do I ever agree with dad's take on teaching kids "defensive" living!
I was really pleased to hear the courts' ruling on this and saddened to see the AG pursue it.
Just because a lot of people partake in a particular behavior doesn't mean it's okay!
I did read the open letter from the AB and find that his background is in domestic abuse and violence against women. Interesting.
As one of your white readers, I humbly ask of you, is it fair to consider him a "house negro" or Uncle Tom? I like Condi Rice and respect her background but I also hear her compared to in those terms...Can you help me out here?

Villager said...

Amazing Gracie - house negroes were so confused that they used to think of the master's house as their own. If the master was sick, they would say "we is sick today". If the master was mad, they would say "we is mad today". They were so confused that they would rat out a field negro that was trying to escape to freedom.

This attorney general in Georgia seems to have the same attributes as a house negro in my view.

I don't have the same attitude about Condi Rice. I think she is a remarkable woman who happens to have accepted invitation to service from a jerk (GW Bush).

peace, Villager

Francis L. Holland Blog said...

Goo question. Why IS Genarlow in still prison? It's about time to put a stop to this nonsense and I hope the Black Accused Support Groups (BASG) can play a role in that.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how his behaviour with that little child effects her for the rest of her life.

He and his friends are scum.

His friends plea bargained down to 5 years each...

He was accuesed of raping a 17 year old the same nite -- but no details on that.

Its ridiculous that your blog says he should be treated better by the DA etc b/c he is black.

10 years is too much but dont make him out to be a martyr.

Villager said...

Eddie - Teaching our young people the concept of "self-defensive living" is important. You cannot emphasize enough the fact that putting ourselves in the wrong places at the wrong times leads to problems. Just ask Pacman Jones!

Francis - It is amazing the level of unjustice that exists in the criminal un-just system.

Anonymous - I understand that the young girl's mother supports the effort to free Generalow. His actions were reprehensible ... but, they were not RAPE (jury said so) ... and they don't deserve 11 years of hard time. Kids doing stupid things while drinking at a new year's party shouldn't equal 11 years of hard time. His only convicted crime was having oral sex with a minor.

peace, Villager