Special session raises new sentencing issues

Kansas Capital
Kansas Capital

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas legislators plan to make quick work of fixing the state’s “Hard 50” criminal sentencing law during their special session this week.

But their discussions ahead of Tuesday’s opening gavels have raised other issues about punishing murderers.

Lawmakers from both parties see widespread agreement on legislation to rewrite the law allowing convicted murderers to be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 50 years. A U.S. Supreme Court decision in June raised questions about the law’s constitutionality.

But in working on the quick fix last week, legislators already were pondering whether a repaired “Hard 50” law is tough enough. That, in turn, is likely to spur debate about the Kansas death penalty law, which was enacted in 1994 but so far has resulted in no executions.

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