Kan. Senate OKs bill strengthening ‘Hard 50’ law

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – The Kansas Senate has approved a bill making a minimum of 50 years in prison the presumed sentence instead of an option for juries to consider for premeditated, first-degree murder.

The 35-3 vote Thursday sends the measure to the House.

The measure would be the second major revision of the “Hard 50” law within a year.

Lawmakers had a special session in September to ensure that juries rather than judges weighed the evidence on whether the sentence should be imposed. The U.S. Supreme Court had said in a Virginia case that juries must decide.

Kansas law now says a defendant convicted of premeditated first-degree murder serves at least 25 years unless a jury recommends otherwise.

Senate Majority Leader Terry Bruce said the 50-year sentence is more just.

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