New Hampshire State Senate Votes to Repeal the Death Penalty

Follows State House of Representatives with Vote of More Than Two-Thirds Majority

April 11, 2019 11:30 am

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CONCORD, N.H. — The New Hampshire State Senate today voted 17-6 in support of HB455, which would repeal the death penalty in the Granite State. This follows a March 7 vote by the N.H. House of Representatives, which came to 279-88 in favor of repeal.

“We commend all 17 Senators who came together from across the aisle to move New Hampshire one step closer to repealing the death penalty,” said Jeanne Hruska, political director of ACLU New Hampshire. “As we have said time and again, the death penalty is not a partisan issue. The death penalty’s history of deep injustices, skyrocketing costs, and entrenched discrimination defy party lines and summon our common humanity to end this archaic practice. We are hopeful that 2019 will indeed be the year that New Hampshire repeals the death penalty.”

For more than thirty years, efforts have been underway in New Hampshire to abolish capital punishment. This legislative session has shown more bipartisan support than in prior years, with lawmakers sharing emotional testimony at hearings about their desire to repeal.

“This historic vote from New Hampshire legislators is very much in line with what we’re seeing in states across the nation,” said Cassandra Stubbs, director of the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project. “Voters, courts, and legislators are increasingly realizing that the death penalty is broken, unconstitutional, and arbitrarily applied. A death sentence in this country has more to do with the race, county, and quality of lawyer than the crime committed. Maybe worst of all, the death penalty is applied to innocent people, as the 165 persons exonerated from death row can attest. It is great to see New Hampshire legislators take this momentous step towards building a more just and effective criminal justice system.”

The bill will now be sent to Governor Chris Sununu’s desk. If he signs it, it will become law. If he vetoes it, as he has publicly stated, it will be sent back to the House for a veto override vote, which would require a two-thirds vote of the representatives present at the time of the vote. If the House successfully overrides the veto, a veto override vote would then be held in the Senate.

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