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September 20, 2004

The Vera Institute Speaks Again!!

As detailed here, the Vera Institute of Justice — which has been at the forefront of state sentencing reform through its State Sentencing and Corrections Program (SSC) — was at the forefront of covering the impact of Blakely in the states through its publication last month entitled "Aggravated Sentencing: Blakely v. Washington – Practical Implications for State Systems."

Vera has now kept up the great work by having now released — just in time for its big conference noted here — a second report entitled "Aggravated Sentencing: Blakely v. Washington – Legal Considerations for State Sentencing Systems." The full report can be accessed here, and it provides the most comprehensive and insightful account of the mess that Blakely may create for the states. The report is a must-read for all Blakely fans, and I will quote here a valuable overview provided by SSC director Dan Wilhelm:

As Blakely continues to sow confusion and anxiety in many quarters of the criminal justice world, it is worth noting that much of the reported chaos has been confined to the federal system.... State sentencing systems, varied as they may be, simply are not as dependent on judge-found facts at sentencing — the heart of Blakely — as is the federal system. This means provisions that offend Blakely are easier to avoid for the time being, as state courts begin to sort out how the decision applies to their systems....

Many states have better recent experience in gathering together politically accountable officials to think about and construct sentencing reforms that are not only workable and public-safety minded but that squarely observe other aims — related to fairness, proportionality, and resources — that led many to revisit their sentencing schemes in the first place. The existence of productive entities such as sentencing commissions, working groups, legislative judiciary committees, and others gives many states a leg up in tackling Blakely.

It also presents a potential opportunity, as this second in our series of Blakely papers suggests. Can the occasion of the Court’s decision encourage states not only to fix problems in their systems created by Blakely but also to explore policy changes that further protect the public while advancing justice? It is admittedly a tall order. The coming months will tell whether states seize and exploit the challenge the Supreme Court has handed them.

September 20, 2004 at 05:50 PM | Permalink


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your sentencing takes way to long. i just want to see if this goes through

Posted by: joe smith | Sep 21, 2004 11:52:17 AM

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