Hard 50

The Kansas Supreme Court is considering one man's appeal of the minimum 50-year sentence he received for pre-meditated, first-degree murder.

Matthew Astorga's case on Monday is the second appeal of the so-called "Hard 50" sentence since state legislators rewrote the law this fall.

Astorga was sentenced for a shooting death in Leavenworth County in 2008.

His lawyers argue the Legislature's changes amount to creating a new crime and punishment and are unconstitutional.

A proposal for strengthening the "Hard 50" murder sentencing law in Kansas is likely to be considered next year by legislators.

Court Set To Hear First Hard 50 Appeal Since Law Change

Oct 21, 2013

Kansas Supreme Court justices are set to hear the first appeal of a Hard 50 prison sentence since lawmakers changed the way the sentence is imposed during a September special session.

The recent special legislative session in Kansas could lead to new bills for consideration in 2014.

Changes To The Hard 50 Law Could Take Effect Soon

Sep 6, 2013

Changes in the Kansas law allowing convicted murderers to be sentenced to at least 50 years in prison are likely to take effect by September 19th.
A bill says they take effect once it's printed in the Kansas register, which is published each Thursday.
Under the bill, juries--and no longer judges-- will determine whether a defendant convicted of premeditated, first-degree murder gets the "Hard 50" sentence.

Kansas House has unanimously passed a fix for the state's Hard 50 sentencing law.

The law allows judges to sentence certain convicted murderers to at least 50 years in prison before the possibility for parole.

The House's proposed revision would change the process so that juries also play a part in giving the sentences.

Republican representative Lance Kinzer of Olathe says the fix will help preserve the original intent of the bill:

A Kansas House committee Tuesday passed a proposed fix for the state’s Hard 50 sentencing law.

A legislative committee is recommending a bill to amend the state's so-called Hard 50 sentencing law. The changes would allow juries to decide if convicted murderers deserve 50 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

Under the old system, judges would decide if a crime warranted the harsher sentence of 50 years without parole. But the U.S. Supreme Court recently said judges can't make those decisions.

The bill would also apply some changes retroactively to past crimes. Some attorneys told the committee that it would be unconstitutional to do that.

A legislative committee is expected to meet Monday to begin work on modifying the state's so-called Hard 50 sentencing law.

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling raised questions about whether the law could stand as-is. The Kansas law allows judges to sentence convicted murderers to life in prison without the possibility of parole for 50 years. The committee is headed by Representative Lance Kinzer, a Republican from Olathe. Kinzer says the committee will hold a public hearing on a fix proposed by Attorney General Derek Schmidt.

The Kansas Legislature will hold a special session starting September 3rd to address the “Hard 50” law that allows judges to sentence convicted murderers to serve at least 50 years in prison. A recent Supreme Court case said a jury needs to be part of those decisions.