Wyandotte County District Attorney Mark Dupree and former Leavenworth Mayor Jermaine Wilson are new appointees to the 17-member Kansas Sentencing Commission. They are two of four new appointees and two reappointments recently announced by Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly.
The Sentencing Commission is one of the most powerful commissions in Kansas government. The commission reviews and makes recommendations for changes to the sentencing grid, the formal structure that sets the sentencing parameters for all Kansas crimes.
Last year, the commission recommended reducing the sentence for first-time nonviolent possession or marijuana and nonviolent possession of drug paraphernalia.
In addition, working with the Secretary of Corrections, the board reviews the impact all crime bills introduced in the legislature will have on bed space in the prison and provide a report on the bill’s impact to the legislature ahead of their consideration of the bill.
Dupree is the first African American to serve as a district attorney in the state of Kansas. Wilson, who is formerly incarcerated, brings a unique perspective to the position. In 2007, he began serving a three-year sentence on drug charges in Kansas’ Lansing Prison. Out of prison, he began a non-profit, Unity in the Community, had his record expunged, and was elected to the Leavenworth City Council in 2017, In 2019, his fellow commissioners, elected him to serve a one-year term as the city’s mayor.
State Sen. David Haley (D-KCK), who is the longest-serving member on the commission, called Wilson’s appointment “a red-letter day.” As far as Haley knows, a former prisoner has never served on the commission.
“I believe he brings a real-life and different perspective to the commission that’s it’s never had before,” said Haley.