Genarlow Wilson and the President
The odd case of Genarlow Wilson made its way to the Georgia State Supreme Court today. Wilson is a young man who got a ten year prison sentence for consensual oral sex with a young woman. At the time, Wilson was 17 and the girl was 15. A Georgia law at the time aimed at adult sexual predators had made the ten year prison sentence mandatory. Had he simply had intercourse with the girl, the matter would have been a misdemeanor.
An honors student and a star football player at the time of the arrest, Wilson has been in state prison ever since.
The case has any number of cultural resonances. The girls involved may have initiated the activities, the party got videotaped, and Wilson was the only one of the males who refused to plea bargain. It’s worth mentioning that unlike a similar Tennessee case involving an African-American male and a white female, both Wilson and the “victim” are African-American. In the meantime, the matter has received national attention. The prosecutor and the State Attorney General are basically insisting that “the rule of law” must stand. Wilson’s supporters, including the legislator who wrote the law he was convicted of violating (he even wrote a friend of the court brief), point to the fact that the young man has already had his life ruined for behavior that large numbers of teenagers have engaged in and that the sentence is cruel and unusual. I don’t know how common it is for teenagers to have an orgy, do drugs, and videotape the thing (my own adolescence never included those things), but he was convicted for having consensual oral sex with a girl two years younger than he was. He’s also the only person at the party who wound up in prison and the law that he was convicted for breaking has since been changed.
So where’s the President on this one? I'm mot the only one wondering why Lewis Libby got his sentence commuted while this young man is supposed to serve as the poster boy (man?) for the rule of law in America? I could see the President commuting the sentence then using the occasion to blame it on Bill Clinton for being a bad role model. Wouldn't that be worth it? It can't be all that fun to be President this month. Why not do a good deed, show some of that conservative compassion, and take a dig at Hillary's candidacy all at once? Just a coincidence, Wilson has spent 29 months in prison so far which happens to have been the length of Libby's prison sentence.
Fwiw, The governor of Georgia doesn’t have pardon power. A state judge did intervene in the matter and reduced Wilson’s sentence to one year, but the State Attorney General, also African-American, appealed the judge’s attempt to reduce the sentence which brought the matter to the State Supreme Court. I do sort of wonder why no one ever gets convicted in these things for performing cunnilingus? More silly stuff, Wilson’s attorney is a woman named B.J. Bernstein.
Just for the sake of comparison, have a look at this odd case of a 25 year old marine convicted of killing an Iraqi civilian who was given no prison time. A little more perspective on that one. A soldier who tried to become a conscientious objector after serving in Iraq was given several years.