The Georgia Supreme Court today ordered the release of Genarlow Wilson, the teenager who has been serving a controversial 10-year sentence for consensual oral sex, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The court’s 4-3 decision upheld a judge’s ruling that the sentence constituted cruel and unusual punishment under both the Georgia and U.S. constitutions.
The majority said the sentence was “grossly disproportionate” to the teenager’s crime and noted that it was out of step with current law. Wilson was convicted in 2005 of aggravated child molestation for having oral sex with a 15-year-old girl at a New Year’s Eve party in a hotel room. He was 17 at the time. At the time the law the crime carried a mandatory 10-year sentence with no parole. However, the law was changed in 2006 to make Wilson’s crime a misdemeanor with a maximum 1-year sentence. A dissenting judge, noting that the change in the law was written so it would not be retroactive, said that meant the sentence was not cruel and unusual.