Posted by: mutantpoodle | June 26, 2007

Justice crushed: Genarlow Wilson and Prosecutorial Cruelty

justiceOne of the things about our criminal justice system is that, when rendered, verdicts are public and subject to a public smell test.

Sometimes, the stench is unbearable.

Four years ago, at the age of 17, Genarlow Wilson engaged in oral sex with a 15 year old girl. It was consensual.

It was also videotaped.

Because this was Georgia, and there was a law on the books that treated that act, even consensual, as aggravated child molestation(!), Wilson was, two years ago, convicted and sentenced to 10 years in prison. If he’d had regular intercourse, he’d have gotten a maximum of 12 months.

Wilson – who was a good student and an athlete with college scholarships in the offing and interest from at least one Ivy League school, found himself in a justice system gone mad, because the burden of the old law is not just the prison time – that’s bad enough – but that he’d be branded, for life, a sex offender.

The law was so egregiously bad, the Georgia legislature changed it. Inexplicable, they did not make the change retroactive. The Georgia Supreme court heard his appeal and turned it down 4-3. The three justices who voted for him were black. The other four weren’t.

Nevertheless, Georgia Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson ordered Wilson released two weeks ago – a decision so obvious and just that no sane human could conceivably object to it.

Meet David McDade, the District Attorney for Douglas county, Georgia, whose office prosecuted the original case and is, clearly, out of his mind: he argues that because Wilson’s offense is one of the seven deadly sins, he should stay locked up. (I assume he means lust, in which case all of us should be locked up at some point in our lives. And he might want to look at pride, at the bottom of that list.)

Civil rights activists are on the case, and there’s a petition to sign here if you think he should be released.

There’s no petition to sign calling McDade a prideful doofus, though I’d put my name on that one too.

Sometimes, things are so obvious that you feel stupid for pointing them out.

So be it. Genarlow Wilson shouldn’t be in jail. And David McDade shouldn’t be anywhere near a courthouse.

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