The purpose of this study is to examine the effect of Blakely v. Washington (2004) on the imposition of upward departures in the state of Washington. Judicial discretion that leads to unwarranted disparity has long been considered a problem in the criminal justice system, and the sentencing guidelines have sought to alleviate this problem. Blakely, in continuing this effort, now requires all facts that are relevant to sentencing decisions – including the decision to upwardly depart from the sentence guidelines – to be presented to a jury. The current study involves a pre-test post-test design to analyze the effects of Blakely on upward departures in the state of Washington. Results suggest that, while unwarranted disparity was only a minor concern before Blakely, unwarranted disparity is virtually nonexistent after Blakely. Future research will want to expand on this study to examine the nationwide effects Blakely has on similar sentencing decisions in other sentencing guideline states.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/jeremy_ball/6/