Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Georgia Yo-yo Justice

A Georgia teen imprisoned for consensual sex with a 15-year-old girl when he was 17, was first told he was being released, but will stay in prison pending a bond hearing next month.
ATLANTA - Genarlow Wilson's joy was short-lived. One minute, a judge ordered him released from prison, saying the young man's 10-year sentence for consensual sex between teens was a "grave miscarriage of justice." Ninety minutes later, Georgia's attorney general said Wilson wasn't going anywhere — the state had appealed.

On Tuesday, Wilson's attorney was fighting to at least get him released on bond during the appeal process. He is now 21 and has been behind bars for more than 28 months.

"Yesterday, they did not consent to a bond," attorney B.J. Bernstein said Tuesday on CNN. "We are hopeful to hurry up and get in front of a judge — one, to get him out pending an appeal, but even more importantly, to get this madness over with."

Bernstein sought a hearing Tuesday in Douglas County court, where Wilson was convicted, even though the district attorney there opposes his release. Douglas County Superior Court Judge David Emerson set the bond hearing for July 5, another three weeks away.

Wilson became a symbol for extreme cases of getting tough on sex offenders when he was sentenced to the mandatory 10-year sentence for having consensual oral sex with a 15-year-old girl in 2003, when Wilson was 17.

If he had instead had sexual intercourse with the teen, he would have fallen under Georgia's "Romeo and Juliet" exception. But under the law in 2003, oral sex for teens still constituted aggravated child molestation and carried a mandatory sentence, plus listing on the sex offender registry.

Lawmakers last year voted to close that loophole, but the state's top court said the new law could not be applied retroactively to Wilson's case.

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