Photo courtesy of CNN.com
Tonight, Rick Sanchez sat down with Genarlow Wilson who was recently released from prison after the Georgia Supreme court ruled his ten-year sentence was cruel and unusual punishment. Rick Sanchez has followed Genarlow's case very closely for some time now. It seemed fitting that he got a chance to interview Genarlow as a free man.
Rick spoke with American Morning fill-in Rob Marciano about the interview. Here is the transcript:
ROB MARCIANO, CNN ANCHOR: Genarlow Wilson says his sights are set on going to college. The 21-year-old was released from prison on Friday after the Georgia supreme court ruled his ten-year sentence amounted to cruel and unusual punishment. His four-year court battle drew national outrage after he was sent to prison for having oral sex with an underaged teenager back in 2003.
Our Rick Sanchez sat down one on one with Wilson and joins us live this morning. Good morning, Rick.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Rob. Good to see you as usual.
MARCIANO: Hey, listen, you spoke with Genarlow back when he was in prison. Now he's out of prison. Obviously he's a little bit happier now. But is he bitter about the whole thing? Is he angry at the experience?
SANCHEZ: You'd think, right.
SANCHEZ: You'd think he'd be bitter after going through something like this, two-and-a-half years in prison, hard time with rapists, with murders, with, I mean, all types of really bad people, and basically for a law that most people in the state, including the legislature, has decided, no, ruled, that it's outdated, that it shouldn't be on the books, that really it should amount to nothing more than a misdemeanor. Yet he sits there for those two-and-a-half years. Finally the supreme court says this is ridiculous. This is really just unusual punishment against this young man. He gets out not bitter at all, not even a little bit, as a matter of fact. I was curious when he said this to me. In fact, take a listen for yourself:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GENARLOW WILSON, FORMER PRISONER: You can't let everything that you've been through, you know, get the best of you and turn you bitter, because you will never achieve anything. You know, I feel like everything I've done and, you know, everything that I've endured, it's only made me stronger as a person. You have to be very open-minded to the situation. Of course, I believe that it was absurd, but you know, I had to look at it as, you know, these gentlemen were doing their job, and you know, they felt like they were carrying out the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: Certainly a matured young man there, Rick. Another question for you, there were five other defendants in this case. They entered guilty pleas. Got out a little bit earlier. Wilson could have done the same thing and been freed a long time ago. Did he say when he chose not to do that?
SANCHEZ: He chose not to do that from the very start, and his argument is, Rob, I'm not a child molester. I was 17 years old, and I had a relationship, albeit stupid, using bad judgment at a party where there were drugs and alcohol, with a 15-year-old girl. That's a teenager with another teenager. Does that make me a child molester? And his main reason for not wanting to do so, he says, is he's got a little sister, and if he'd done this, he wouldn't be able to be around her, by law. Here's his explanation:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILSON: It wasn't necessarily just about the time, you know, it was the principle. It was that, you know, I didn't want to be labeled as a sex offender, because I am not one. I might have had lesser time, but then again, I would have nowhere to go, because I would have no home. 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 that's like, I can't even have kids myself, you know, so what is the point of life?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: Boy, you really see in that video, Rick, when he's there reunited with his family, all of the decisions he had to make, all the motions he may have went through. Did he talk with you at all about the night when all of this went down, New Year's Eve, 2003, his behavior with the 15-year-old girl. Did he say why, you know, why he did what he did, and furthermore, why in the heck did videotape it?
SANCHEZ: Because he was a stupid teenager, that's why.
MARCIANO: Fair enough.
SANCHEZ: Really, I mean let's just call it what it is. He was 17 years old. It's a youthful indiscretion. He got invited to a party. A bunch of his buddies were there. They were getting high. They were -- pardon me -- they were drinking, and they behaved in a stupid way, as people sometimes do in their lives. I mean, that's why, you know, Rob, we at CNN, and I took it on to do and continue to follow this story because, as a dad, with teenage boys, I asked myself, what would I do if my son did something like this? Well, you know, heaven forbid, because I'd be really, really angry at my son, and I would have a right to. But do I want the state to step in, and say we're taking your son and we're putting him in prison for 10 years because of something like this? I mean, I think this is the parents' job, and that's where I think maybe it was an overreach on the part of the justice system. But I asked him these questions, and he does own up to it. Here's what he says:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILSON: I don't think any of us made very wise decisions, you know, but I don't think that any of us can go back then and change what happened. You know, for the most part, I think all we can do is mature from it, you know, make sure it doesn't happen again and, you know, and someone can get caught up in the same thing, but you know, yes, I was young then. You know, I've done some idiotic things in my teen years, but, you know, every average teen does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: ... being a teenager is in this country, Rick. It seems like our friend here has grown up quite a bit.
SANCHEZ: He has, Rob, and there was a certain understatedness about him now, you know, a quietness about him. I think he's learned his lesson. One never knows. We all grow throughout life. But I think he's going to do well, and I think he's very committed now to helping others not make the same mistake that he has as well. He says he wants to go to college, maybe study sociology. Should be an interesting story. And we're going to have a lot more on this tonight at 8:00 p.m., our exclusive first-time interview with Genarlow after getting out of prison. -- Rob.
MARCIANO: We look forward to that. And always good to see you, Rick. Thanks very much.
Click here to see Rick's interview with Genarlow Wilson as well as additional information regarding Genarlow's case.
The YouTube debates are set!
The eight major Republican candidates for President of the United States of America have all signed on for the YouTube Debate this coming November in St. Petersburg, Florida. Here is a portion of today's press release:
I enjoyed the Democratic YouTube debate and find it hard to return to the traditional style debates. I'm really looking forward to see how the Republican candidates handle citizen inquiries on foreign and domestic issues.
CNN, YouTube and the Republican Party of Florida today announced that the eight major Republican candidates running for president – Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Duncan Hunter, Sen. John McCain, Rep. Ron Paul, Gov. Mitt Romney, Rep. Tom Tancredo and Sen. Fred Thompson – will participate in their first-of-its-kind Republican primary debate scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 28, at the Mahaffey Theatre in St. Petersburg, Fla. CNN’s Anderson Cooper will moderate this program designed to allow voters, no matter where they live, ask questions of the candidates for this country’s highest office.
CNN also announced that the ground-breaking program will broadcast live from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. (ET) on CNN, CNN International, CNN en Español, CNN Airport Network and CNN Radio and stream live on CNN.com, ensuring that people around the country and the world can watch these candidates’ answers to lively and thoughtful questions coming exclusively from their fellow citizens via video.
Like the Democratic CNN/YouTube/South Carolina Democratic Party debate, this innovative, live forum will feature video questions submitted to YouTube that will be broadcast and answered by the candidates on CNN. Over 2,225 questions have been submitted thus far; online users are able to submit their video queries through Sunday, Nov. 25 at www.youtube.com/debates or www.rpof.org or www.cnn.com/youtubedebates.
The Situation Room wins in Demo two months in a row!
According to CNN, The Situation Room at 4pm was #1 in cable news in P25-54 at 4pm for the second consecutive month.
TSR topped FNC's Your World for the month of October by 7% (192k vs 180k).
Congratulations to Wolf Blitzer and his team!