It seems like whenever I'm gone for a conference or something like that, a major event relevant to this blog happens. In this case, it was the Georgia Supreme Court's ruling in Genarlow Wilson's case. There are plenty of great posts on the case around the blogosphere (which I link to below), but I wanted to point out one issue that hasn't really been touched upon. After Wilson was freed, he gave a few interviews and pointed out some of the incentives created by registration and residency restriction systems. From CNN:
Genarlow Wilson, freed last week from a Georgia prison, said he's glad he rejected a plea deal from prosecutors, even if it would have sprung him from prison months earlier.
The 21-year-old, who served two years of a 10-year sentence for aggravated child molestation, said the prospect of being labeled a sex offender drove him to turn down the deal. He had to think about his 9-year-old sister and having a family of his own one day, he said Sunday.
"It might've been lesser time, but then again, I would have nowhere to go because I would have no home," Wilson said during a CNN interview scheduled to air Monday at 8 p.m.
"I wouldn't be able to stay with my mother because I have a little sister. You know, when you're a sex offender you can't be around kids. Basically, I can't even have kids myself, you know, so what is the point of life?" he asked.
While the prosecutor says the deal would have allowed Wilson to eventually get off the sex offender list, the incentives were clear at the time. If Wilson accepted the plea, he would have had a long jail term and wouldn't be able to go live with his family when he was released. For those judges and policymakers who continue to believe that residency restrictions aren't "punitive," I think the reasoning of Wilson and similar defendants regarding plea deals shows otherwise.
For other good Wilson reading, check out these blogs:
Sentencing Law & Policy:
Feminist Law Professors:
A Stitch in Haste:
And last, but not least, the brand spankin' new University of Louisville Law Faculty Blog: