The Geroge Supreme Court has found the 10-year sentence of Genarlow Wilson to be unconstitutional as cruel and unusual punishment. It is the final righting of a terrible wrong — brought about by a complete lack of prosecutorial discretion and logic.
An honors student and gifted athlete, Wilson was preparing for college in 2005 when he was charged in Georgia with aggravated child molestation for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl.
Though Wilson was only 17, Douglas County District Attorney David McDade and Assistant D.A. Eddie Barker secured a 10-year sentence for an act committed by thousands of teenagers every year. It’s not a crime in most states, and Georgia recently reduced it to a misdemeanor. But the prosecutors are now fighting a judge’s efforts to release Wilson. They can’t be charged on ethical grounds, but they’ve used the criminal justice system to brutalize a young man who should have received a stern parental lecture, not a 10-year prison term.
The ruling is interesting given the U.S. Supreme Court’s unrelenting attack on the Eighth Amendment standard. The Court has gutted the basis for such actions in sentencing. The Georgia Supreme Court returned the standard to its true purpose as a barrier against prosecutorial abuse. The question is what will happen to McDade and Barker who brought about this farce of justice. For a prior column on such abuse, click here For today’s story, click here