Repealing the Death Penalty in New Hampshire Is Personal

New Hampshire is the only state in New England that still puts people to death. The Northeast region, and much of the nation, has recognized capital punishment for what it is: a practice of a bygone era that is inherently unjust, often racially charged, and has resulted in the torture of individuals put to death. 

This could change for New Hampshire on Sept. 13, when state legislators have an opportunity to override Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of a death penalty repeal bill. This is the latest of a long line of legislative attempts at repeal in the past decade. The trend is strongly in favor of repeal, and it is one that crosses party lines. 

The question for New Hampshire is not if, but when. 

There are Republicans, Democrats, independents, and libertarians who support repealing the death penalty, just as there are people in all these groups who do not. You cannot assume an elected official’s position based on that person’s party. 

More than any other civil rights issue, the death penalty is personal for elected officials, seen through the prisms of morality, faith, or specific encounters with individual constituents. Many oppose it because it goes against their religious beliefs. Others oppose it because it costs the state far more money than life in prison. And some oppose it because an innocent person may be put to death.

When the New Hampshire Senate voted to  repeal the death penalty in March, eight Democrats and six Republicans voted in favor of repeal. When the New Hampshire House voted in April, 146 Democrats and 77 Republicans voted for repeal.

Because of Gov. Sununu’s veto in June, the state’s House and Senate will reconvene on Sept.  13 and will have to override the veto with a two-thirds vote in each chamber. As that vote approaches, the message that most resonates across party lines, gender lines, and county lines is this: The death penalty is inherently imperfect and that imperfection takes an enormous human toll.

We know for a fact that people are wrongfully sentenced to death in our nation. We know this because over 160 people on death row have been exonerated. What’s more, the process of executing someone can result in torture, which is unconstitutional. We know this from different experiences in different states, no matter the method of execution. There is always the risk that a so-called “humane” execution becomes cruel and unusual.

People are too often sentenced to death not because of the crime committed, but because of a poor legal defense, because of their race, or because of the race of the victim. A death sentence for a defendant often raises questions about why someone in similar circumstances, sentenced by a different jury, received life without parole instead.  And regardless of how the death penalty is carried out, state employees who conduct the execution often experience post-traumatic stress disorder afterwards. This means that even an execution conducted without error causes harm.

Our criminal justice system is not infallible. We know this. We also know that society can function without the death penalty. Many states do. The overwhelming number of countries across the globe do.

It is impossible to guarantee that the death penalty is only applied to the guilty and only to those guilty of the most heinous crimes. It is also impossible to guarantee a person won’t be tortured while being killed by the state. The only way to ensure that someone is never wrongfully sentenced to death, wrongfully executed, or tortured during an execution is to repeal the death penalty.  

And that’s the certainty the New Hampshire Legislature should provide on Sept. 13.

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Anonymous

Please. This is BS: "..has recognized capital punishment for what it is: a practice of a bygone era that is inherently unjust, often racially charged, and has resulted in the torture of individuals put to death. "

Anonymous

Truth hurt?

Dudley Sharp

Well known polling finds that a sizable majority of NHL citizens supports the death penalty.

Polling by an anti death penalty group found 94% death penalty support by police chiefs.

Non scientific polling finds 90-95% death penalty support by the loved ones of murder victims.

Both the governor and legislature are aware of that.

Anonymous

You are correct, the death penalty should be abolished for the most part.
There should be life in prison without parole.

Anonymous

Isn’t this an academic question in New Hampshire, where there has not been an execution since 1939?

In theory New Hampshire has death by lethal injection or hanging but no death chamber.

In practice, New Hampshire has a longer abolitionist record than most “progressive” European nations.

Wavecure

All Free-States should continue the Death Penalty Program - yet, not in the manner as it officially is. Instead of bullying Citizen's TAX $$$$ in keeping inmates in Death Row on a scheduled date sentence, proceed with Capital Death days right after Court procedures. These offenders and criminals, the minute they joined the ranks of killing and mischievous of evil doings and get caught, They No Longer Have Rights! Their evil actions speak for themselves, especially, when proven guilty with evidences. People & Organizations that vote against Capital Punishment are clueless and in some way, up-hold the continuance killings and murdering of innocent lives. Nothing will stop Evil Doers. Nothing. However, knowing that the minute they are caught their daily lives in this earth are numbered and will continue being an education or deterrent to other "want-to-be-evil criminals" or in such practice. Through out all these years, come-on! Death Row does not work and keeps TAX Payers wallets slim and it's not a deterrent program for other known criminals. ACLU is supporting nothing on this subject, but, the continuous right-to-an inmate that, ultimately, has lost ALL Rights in-and-to Society.

Dr. Timothy Leary

That's right, Wavecure. Give these liberal queefs a taste of reality.

Wavecure

Why is it taking long to analyze my comment to see this posted? Is it because you, the Analyzer, find my comment unrelated to ACLU agenda?

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