Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is asking Governor Sam Brownback to call a special session of the Legislature. Schmidt wants lawmakers to tweak the state’s so-called “hard 50” sentencing law. It allows for judges in first-degree murder cases to issue a sentence that would require an offender to serve 50 years in prison before becoming parole-eligible. But the U.S Supreme Court ruled last month that juries must be able to weigh in on sentencing that exceeds certain mandatory minimums. Schmidt says the state would be better off if legislators didn't wait until their next annual session to adjust the Kansas "hard 50" law so that it complies with the Supreme Court's decision.
Schmidt added that it may not be possible to fix the "hard 50" law as it currently stands. A spokesperson for Governor Brownback says he is aware of the attorney general's request and will make a decision soon.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has asked Governor Sam Brownback to call a special session to discuss the state's "Hard 50" law and a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Kansas law allows judges to sentence people convicted of first-degree murder to a minimum of 50 years in prison ...before they can seek parole. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that juries, not judges... must have the final say on mandatory minimum sentences. Schmidt does not believe legislators should wait until their next annual session in January to address the issue.
Schmidt admits that lawmakers may not be able to fix the state law as it currently stands. A spokesperson for Gov. Brownback says he is aware of the attorney general's request and will make a decision soon.