The death penalty is now history in New Hampshire, the “Live Free or Die” state.
Removing life from the death-sentence, so to speak, occurred in several votes. In April 2019, the state Senate voted 17-6 to repeal the death penalty. The House did likewise, where the vote was 279-88. After a veto by Governor Chris Sununu, the Senate voted May 30 to override it 16-8, a narrow two-thirds margin. Twelve Democrats and four Republicans supported abolishing capital punishment, while six Republicans and two Democrats supported keeping it, The Associated Press reports.
“Now it’s up to us to stop this practice that is archaic, costly, discriminatory and final,” Senator Melanie Levesque, D-Brookline, said.
Both sides lined up in the fight. Sununu “continues to stand with crime victims, members of the law enforcement community, and advocates for justice in opposing a repeal of the death penalty," his office said.
Proponents are unlikely bedfellows: retired professors and prosecutors, members of law enforcement, and relatives of murder victims.
Still, the death penalty is a bipartisan issue. “The vote to end New Hampshire’s death penalty included many conservative Republican lawmakers,” said Hannah Cox, national manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, according to deathpenaltyinfo.org. “They join a growing number of GOP state legislators around the country who feel strongly that capital punishment does not comport with their conservative beliefs, such as limited government, fiscal responsibility, and valuing life.”
Republican-backed legislation to eliminate the death penalty or limit its use has been introduced in various states this year, namely Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, and Wyoming.
While the bill is not retroactive, no one has been executed in New Hampshire since 1939.
With the new law, New Hampshire becomes the 21st state to stop capital punishment and the ninth in the past 15 years.
“Still, support for capital punishment has not vanished,” reports governing.com. “Polls show that a majority of Americans continue to back it.”
Sources: deathpenaltyinfo.org, governing.com, The Associated Press
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