Defense attorneys question Kan. ‘Hard 50′ law fix

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Criminal defense attorneys have raised concerns about a proposal to revise the way the “Hard 50″ prison sentence is administered in Kansas.

Legislators are considering a bill that would change how the mandatory prison sentence for some murder convictions is applied.

Attorneys Randall Hodgkinson and Jessica Glendening told a legislative panel on Monday the changes are more than procedural. They argued it would be unconstitutional to apply the revisions to people previously sentenced to at least 50 years in prison before the chance of parole.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that such mandatory sentences are unconstitutional when decided by judges and not juries. In Kansas, judges impose the sentence on convictions.

The Legislature will take up the proposal during a special session next month.

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