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Kansas Attorney General proposes ‘Hard 50' legislation - KOAM TV 7

Kansas Attorney General proposes ‘Hard 50' legislation

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NEWS RELEASE ISSUED BY THE OFFICE OF THE KANSAS ATTORNEY GENERAL:

AG proposes‘Hard 50' legislation

TOPEKA– (August 19, 2013) – Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt today formallyrecommended legislation to repair the damage done to the Kansas ‘Hard 50'sentencing law by a recent U.S. Supreme Court case.

Ina letter to legislators, Schmidt conveyed the draft of a bill that wouldoverhaul the sentencing procedure for new "Hard 50" cases and would modify theexisting procedure for pending cases in order to comply with the SupremeCourt's ruling. The Court ruled in June that juries, not judges, must make thefindings upon which a "Hard 50" sentence is based.

Schmidtsaid the legislation was drafted by his office in close consultation with localprosecutors throughout the state. The Kansas County and District AttorneysAssociation has formally endorsed the bill draft.

"Webelieve this bill draft would remedy the constitutional problem the SupremeCourt identified and would maximize our ability to continue using the ‘Hard 50'law," Schmidt said. "I look forward to working with the Legislature as thisproposal receives consideration."

Forthe past 15 years, Kansas has had a "Hard 50" law that requires for certainconvicted murderers, whose crimes are particularly aggravated, to wait 50 yearsbefore first being eligible for parole rather than the usual 25 years. The U.S.Supreme Court's decision in Alleyne v. United States, issued June 17,called into question the procedure Kansas uses for imposing a Hard 50 sentence.The ruling came too late for the Legislature to amend Kansas law during itsregular legislative session, so Gov. Sam Brownback has called the Legislatureback for a special session beginning September 3 to repair the problem andreinstate the "Hard 50."

AttorneyGeneral Schmidt also announced that he has launched a new page on his officewebsite to make available to the public information about the "Hard 50" law andthe upcoming special legislative session. The bill draft and letter oftransmission are posted there. The page is available at www.ag.ks.gov/special-session.

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