Sunday, June 24, 2007

Talk about rape: Thurbert Baker v Genarlow Wilson

Help Color of Change save a life:

Two weeks ago, a judge finally dismissed the sentence of Genarlow Wilson--the honor roll student and homecoming king serving ten years in prison for having consensual oral sex with a 15 year old when he was 17. Immediately after the ruling Thurbert Baker, Georgia's Attorney General, appealed it--leaving Wilson stuck in jail.

Baker's actions have not only robbed Wilson of his long overdue freedom, they epitomize the insanity of a justice system that seems hell-bent on criminalizing young Black men. The New York Times, former President Jimmy Carter, the NAACP and thousands of others have called for Wilson to be released. I've signed on with to call on the Attorney General to withdraw his appeal now. Will you join us?

At a New Year's Eve party in 2003, Genarlow Wilson had consensual oral sex with another teen--she was 15 and he was 17. Under an old Georgia law, he was convicted of aggravated child molestation, a charge intended for adult sexual predators, and sentenced to a mandatory minimum 10 years in prison. If Wilson had engaged in sexual intercourse with the same girl, it would have been a misdemeanor under an exemption for contact between minors. No one, from his teen "victim" to the jurors at his trial, wanted Wilson to go to jail, but at every turn the Georgia justice system and Georgia legislature failed him--convicting him under an archaic Georgia law; passing a law that could have freed him but not applying it retroactively; and then blocking a second bill that would have allowed for Wilson's release.

It's hard to believe that race is not a factor in this case. According to the NAACP, around the same time that Wilson was sentenced, a high school teacher was convicted of having sex with a student. The white female teacher was sentenced to just 90 days in the same Georgia courthouse that sentenced Wilson to 10 years. While Wilson's prosecutor claimed that he was "standing up for African-American victims in this case," he hardly seems credible, since the "victim" did not want to press charges and did not even testify for the prosecution.

In his statement overturning Wilson's sentence on Monday, Superior Court Judge Thomas Wilson said: "If any case fits into the definitive limits of a miscarriage of justice, surely this case does." Why, then, is Georgia's Black Attorney General trying to keep Wilson in jail? Baker says he's compelled to appeal, but as Attorney General, it is completely at his discretion. He's ignoring the outrage of nearly everyone associated with the case, and thousands of Americans across the country, by keeping this innocent young black man in jail.

Clearly, justice is not being served by Wilson's continued incarceration. Will you join us in telling Attorney General Baker to withdraw his appeal and allow Genarlow Wilson to go home once and for all?


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