ATLANTA – A young man sentenced to 10 years in prison for having consensual oral sex with another teenager was freed Friday by Georgia’s highest court, which ruled that his sentence amounted to cruel and unusual punishment.
Genarlow Wilson’s case led to widespread protests of heavy handed justice. His supporters said race was one reason he received a sentence they believed was appallingly harsh. Wilson and the girl are both black.
In its 4-3 decision, the Georgia Supreme Court noted that state lawmakers later scrapped the law that required a minimum 10-year prison term.
That change, the court said, represented “a seismic shift in the legislature’s view of the gravity of oral sex between two willing teenage participants.”
The justices also said Wilson’s sentence made “no measurable contribution to acceptable goals of punishment,” and his crime did not rise to the “level of adults who prey on children.”