The tenacity of a lawyer resulted in good when Genarlow Wilson was released from jail last Friday. Genarlow and his attorney BJ Bernstein gambled when Genarlow refused to accept numerous plea offers to reduce his ten year sentence for having consensual sex with another teenager, but the risk paid off. To be sure, Genarlow's strategy was risky. It was only a 4-3 margin of the Georgia Supreme Court that decided that Wilson's punishment was cruel and unusual.
In addition to the dogged pursuit of Genarlow's lawyer, the media should rightfully take credit for Genarlow's release. Media outlets like ESPN brought well deserved national attention to Genarlow's plight.
Georgia was shamed into releasing Genarlow Wilson. Despite the rationalizations of local prosecutors. Despite the politics of the legislature. Despite the narrow margin of the Supreme Court.
Some have complained that the Supreme Court has legislated from the bench in freeing Wilson despite the legislature's express refusal to do so. To some lawyers,"legislating from the bench" is the most cardinal sin of a judge. To others, it's the appropriate effectuation of a checks and balances system that counters nonsensical laws.
Finally, after over two years in prison, legal wrangling and media attention, Genarlow Wilson is free to anticlimatically get on with his life. The media outlets that devoted the feature stories that were instrumental in securing his freedom have blurbed about his release and moved on. Genarlow says he leaves prison a man and that he hopes to go to college to study sociology.
And, ironically, Genarlow has appropriate gratitude for the legal system that prosecuted and vindicated him.
Well, for the most part my incarceration made me a stronger person and a more ambitious person. So I definitely plan on succeeding. Especially with having so many people supporting me and coming to my defense; I don’t want to disappoint them. I feel like failure’s not an option. I also have higher expectations for myself, and I feel like I’ve matured.
For the most part I’m not angry or bitter. I can’t let my frustrations get the best of me. It’s not going to make matters any easier for me. Either way it goes, it’s still going to be hard for me. But now I get to start over. It’s a new beginning, and I’m looking forward to it. I’ve turned all the negative energy into something positive.
Genarlow was a popular high school football player in his former life. He seems not to crave anything but simple interaction now. Raiding the refrigerator whenever he wants. Spending time with his mother and sister. Hopefully, going to class and earning and degree. After all he's been though, here's hoping he can accomplish so much.