Genarlow Wilson Freed

The Georgia Supreme Court ordered that Genarlow Wilson be released from prison, ruling that his sentence for a teen sex conviction was cruel and unusual punishment. Farai Chideya talks with Jeremy Redmon, a reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

FARAI CHIDEYA, host:

This is NEWS & NOTES. I'm Farai Chideya.

We'll move on to our reporter's roundtable in a minute.

But first, there's been an update on a story we've been following.

Genarlow Wilson is the former high school student who was sentenced to 10 years in prison. He'd had consensual oral sex with a girl just two years his junior. Today, Genarlow Wilson was released from prison following an appeal to the Georgia's Supreme Court.

Jeremy Redmon is a reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He's been following the story. Welcome.

Mr. JEREMY REDMON (Reporter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution): Hi there.

CHIDEYA: So the Supreme Court ruled 4-3 for Mr. Wilson. What did the majority opinion say and the minority?

Mr. REDMON: Yes. The majority decision it's a 4-3 vote. And they essentially said that the sentence that Genarlow Wilson received was coarsely disproportionate to a teenager's crime. And noted that it was out of step with current law. The minority opinion had argued that a law that was adopted months after Genarlow Wilson was convicted that essentially made the same criminal act or misdemeanor, was not retroactive and that the court shall not be relying on that. And he even raised the concern about - of possibility that other people that were similarly charged under similar circumstances should be freed based on this court's ruling today.

CHIDEYA: How long roughly would the felony versus the misdemeanor sentences be?

Mr. REDMON: Well, it's a 10-year minimum sentence under this charge for aggravated child molestation, whereas a misdemeanor would be up to a year.

CHIDEYA: Now, how much time has Genarlow Wilson served so far and how old is he now?

Mr. REDMON: He is more than two years and he's roughly around 21 years old at this point.

CHIDEYA: Now, he's become somewhat of a cause célèbre. Do you think that race played a factor in this?

Mr. REDMON: It's unclear. That's not noted in the news releases at the court issue today. But it became certainly a racely-charged case. We had Al Sharpton visit civil rights leaders and, you know, essentially said that weighs well the factors as well as classism. Nut I would note that everyone in the case was African-American. Genarlow Wilson is African-African, the 15-year-old victim is African-American, and the attorney general, Thurbert Baker, who appealed this case at the Supreme Court, is also African-American.

CHIDEYA: You mentioned that Reverend Sharpton came down. Give us a sense - I'm sure there were many opinions - but of how people reacted in Georgia to the case and to the protest.

Mr. REDMON: There are people on both sides of the argument here. And the mother of the victim, for instance, said that Genarlow Wilson - she didn't want him to be convicted and prosecuted the (unintelligible). She argued that the sex between her daughter and Genarlow was consensual. However critics, on the other side, point out that the age of consent in Georgia is 16.

CHIDEYA: Well, Jeremy Redmon, thank you so much.

Mr. REDMON: My pleasure.

CHIDEYA: Jeremy Redmon is a reporter for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And you can follow the developments in this case on our blog nprnewsandviews.org.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: