Kweisi Mfume, President & CEO, of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) hailed the Georgia Supreme Court decision in the Marcus Dixon case in which it overturned the high school student's 10-year prison sentence for having consensual sex with a younger classmate.
"We are elated that the Court has agreed that Mr. Dixon's sentence was a case of misapplication of Georgia law and essentially a travesty of justice," said Mfume. "We now urge the proper authorities to move with all haste to have Mr. Dixon released from prison so he can get on with his life and continue his education. His conviction was an extremely unfortunate example of what can and too often does happen to young black, Latino and poor white teens when punishments for offenses are unfairly and unevenly applied."
Speaking further on the impact that the case has had on both families involved Mfume went on to say that "We recognize that this could have been anybody's son or daughter and that teenagers don't always make the right decisions when it comes to life or when it come to sex, but we are glad that the Court made the right decision when it comes to common sense".
Mfume, the Georgia State Conference of NAACP Branches and NAACP College Chapters led several rallies in support of Dixon, culminating in a large candlelight vigil in front of the Georgia State Capital in Atlanta on March 1st of this year.
Dixon was arrested in February 2003 on charges of misdemeanor statutory rape and aggravated child molestation of a 15-year, 9-month-old female schoolmate. Dixon who was 18 at the time of the arrest says the relations were consensual, but through what has been termed as a misapplication of Georgia law, he was convicted of statutory rape and aggravated child molestation, which carries a mandatory 10-year sentence with no hope of parole. Dixon is black and his female schoolmate is white.
Some of the jurors in the original trial believed Marcus did nothing more than have consensual sex with a classmate. These jurors said the prosecution's presentation caused them to convict Marcus of what they thought were much lesser crimes that would result in Marcus going home rather than to jail. His lawyers argued the conviction was a misapplication of the Georgia aggravated child molestation law.
A spokeswoman for the law firm of McKenna, Long and Aldridge said the Dixon lawyers are now coordinating plans for the next step in his defense.
Today's Supreme Court decision means the case now goes back to a lower court for review and reconsideration. If Dixon were convicted solely of statutory rape, he would have faced no more than a one-year jail term and a $1,000 fine.
Brandon Neal, of the NAACP Youth and College Division, said the Court's decision "is an important victory and vindicates the hard work our College Chapters have been doing to bring light to the Dixon case. It is also an indication of a new youth activism across the nation."
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