Read this article. It’s shocking, infuriating, and amazing.
17 year old Genarlow Wilson was a good kid in high school: on the football team, being scouted by college coaches and taking fine arts classes to broaden his horizons at the same time.
One day, Genarlow went to a college tryout and the coaches were impressed.
Two days later, he went to prison on a ten-year sentence. His crime? Consensual oral sex with a schoolmate. He was 17, and she was 15. Both minors. The legal name for this crime: aggravated child molestation.
Nobody believes it wasn’t consensual- not the prosecutor, the girl, or Wilson. But he has been in prison for two years already.
The kicker: if they had actually performed sexual intercourse, the crime would only be a misdimeanor, not a felony.
What is the source of the issue? Maybe it was race. Appeals to the trial went up to the Georgia supreme court, which denied amnesty 4-3. 4 white, 3 black. At the same time of his “aggravated child molestation,” a white teacher got 90 days for actually molesting a minor.
The sad thing is that even if some of it is fueled by race, a lot is still just social paranoia: the charge for oral sex is worse than the one for sexual intercourse. I am an extreme proponent of prosecution for actual sexual offenders. I believe that if you actually rape someone, your member should be cut off. But this guy is gonna be labeled a sex offender for life for what he did. If he were to get out of prison, he couldn’t live in the same house as his sister.
We spring too quickly on supposed “offenses”. Someone stepping across the 18-year line, say, a 17 and 19 year old. In some states, if you get caught peeing in a public park, you are forced to register as a sex offender for life. Depending on the state you live in, this may entail:
- Not being allowed to live near schools, parks, stadiums, malls
- Not being allowed to have contact with children
- Legal requirements to sit in separate pews than children at church
- Having your information disclosed to neighbors whenever you move
- Required permission from a probation officer to leave town
- Much of your personal information listed publicly online (2 registered offenders have been murdered as a result of this listing.)
I have no problem with actual rapists and perverts being subjected to the above. But should someone like Genarlow Wilson have to go to prison for ten years, and then be denied basic civil rights for the rest of his life? And what about other crimes: there is nothing keeping an ex-murderer from living near a school or sitting next to me in church.
This is what happens when government legislates societal rules. Even if the offenders deserve their punishment, other innocents are going to get caught in the unjust hands of our justice system.