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Archive for Friday, February 21, 2003

Tougher criminal sentences urged

Kline, Sebelius want especially strong rules in sex crimes

February 21, 2003

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— Atty. Gen. Phill Kline and the chief counsel for Gov. Kathleen Sebelius advocated proposals Thursday that would strengthen criminal sentencing laws, particularly for sex offenders.

Kline and Sebelius drafted anti-crime initiatives that include making 40 years in prison the penalty for a second rape conviction. Currently, the maximum sentence is 22 years and three months.

The House Corrections and Juvenile Justice Committee heard testimony Thursday on the two bills.

"These bills target some of the worst, most heinous, most insidious crimes in our society," said Matt All, Sebelius' chief counsel.

The first bill also increases the sentence for promoting prostitution of a minor; defines exposing a minor to the sale, distribution or manufacture of methamphetamine as child endangerment; and toughens the penalty for aggravated battery against an off-duty law enforcement officer.

"We must stand together to protect the safety of Kansas children, law enforcement officers and to prevent additional victims of crime," Kline said.

The second bill changes a 1994 law allowing the state to confine sex offenders for treatment after their prison terms end if juries in separate civil trials declare them violent sexual predators. Once a judge has found there is enough evidence to warrant such a jury trial, it must start within 60 days.

Last year, the Kansas Supreme Court said the 60-day deadline was absolute -- even if the defense accepted a delay or a judge delayed a trial without anyone requesting it. If the trial does not begin within the time limit, the inmate must be released.

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