Legal experts are looking to Kansas as a potential model for states needing fast reforms after the Supreme Court decision that voided part of Washington State’s sentencing guidelines that allowed juges to find facts after jury verdicts, says Stateline.org. The case’s impact may be felt in more than 20 states with structured sentencing systems “States are trying to figure out what is really going on, based on a Supreme Court ruling that definitely could alter the very premise of how sentencing works in some states,” said Daniel Wilhelm of the New York-based Vera Institute of Justice. The institute said sentencing standards in thirteen states – Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, and Washington -will be fundamentally affected.
Only three states – Louisiana, Missouri and Wisconsin – will likely escape a direct impact because they use voluntary guideline systems, in which judges are encouraged to use guideline ranges but are not required to find additional facts to impose harsher sentences. Vera mentions Kansas as a model for other states looking to reform their systems of presumptive sentencing guidelines.