Sunday, October 28, 2007

Georgia Injustice

Genarlow Wilson is a free man after spending nearly three years of a 10 year sentence in prison for the absurd "crime" of having oral sex with a minor when he himself was not yet a legal adult.

The Georgia Supreme Court had to intervene on his behalf.

The Georgia Legislature did modify the law to make similar behavior a misdemeanor, still punishable by up to 12 months in jail. However, they did nothing to help teens who are shackled to Georgia's sex offender registry for similar acts. It's reprehensible and while I'm happy with the outcome for Genarlow, I'm still angry that injustice remains.

From today's Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
Those sweeping limits have stranded other young offenders with virtually no place to go. Also convicted at age 17 of having oral sex with a 15 -year-old, Jeffery York, 23, of Polk County has resorted to sleeping in a camper van in the woods to comply with the registry. When she was 17, Wendy Whitaker, 28, of Harlem had oral sex with a teen about to turn 16; her sodomy conviction landed her on the registry and forced her and her husband to move twice already.

Teen sex is natural and unstoppable. It's an instinct and brilliantly illustrates our disconnect from understanding that you cannot draw a line in the sand and say "tomorrow you turn 18 and can go do adult things, but today you are still 17 and therefore a criminal." It's not that simple and it's unfortunate the Georgia Legislature prefers to bury its collective head up its ass instead of addressing the fact that consensual sex between teens doesn't warrant a sex offender registry.

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