Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt said Monday he's working with prosecutors across the state to come up with a consensus on how to fix the state's “Hard 50” sentencing law when the Legislature goes into special session next month, reports the Wichita Eagle. The law allows judges to sentence convicted murderers to life in prison without possibility of parole for 50 years when certain aggravating factors, such as torturing the victim, are part of the crime.
The constitutionality of the law is questionable in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court case that struck down a similar law in Virginia on the grounds that only juries, not judges, could make the factual findings necessary to impose the sentence, Schmidt said. Gov. Sam Brownback has called a special legislative session on Sept. 3 to rewrite the law. Schmidt said he hopes to outline a clear path for lawmakers to follow.