Death Penalty Showdown in New Hampshire

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Death Penalty Showdown in New Hampshire

 

New Hampshire is the lone New England state that still has the death penalty on the books. Legislators and Gov. Chris Sununu are at odds over the question of whether New Hampshire should join its neighbors in abolishing it.

 

In mid-March, the state Senate voted 14-10 to repeal New Hampshire’s death penalty statute. This is a change from votes in past sessions, where senators deadlocked on the issue. The state House of Representatives has supported repeal legislation in the past. The bill to replace the death penalty with life in prison without possibility of parole now heads to that chamber, where it is likely to pass.

 

Governor Sununu, a Republican, has vowed to veto such legislation. The Senate vote did not fall along party lines, however. There were Republican and Democratic votes on both the pro-repeal and anti-repeal sides. While the Senate voted in favor of the repeal bill, the majority was not large enough to override the governor’s veto.

 

In early March, Governor Sununu signaled his support of the death penalty, saying, “I stand with crime victims, members of the law enforcement community and advocates for justice in opposing a repeal of the death penalty.”

 

There have been no executions in New Hampshire since 1939. Only one person currently sits on the state’s death row – Michael Addison, who murdered a police officer in 2008. The death penalty repeal legislation text specifies that it is only applicable to cases in the future. However, the state’s attorney general has advised that if the state repeals the penalty, it could probably not execute Addison, either.

 

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