New Hampshire repeals death penalty; its last execution was in 1939
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New Hampshire is the 21st state to abolish the death penalty.
The state Senate voted Thursday to override the governor’s veto of a bill to repeal capital punishment, report the Washington Post, the Concord Monitor and New Hampshire Public Radio. The state House voted last week to override the veto.
New Hampshire was the last state in New England with capital punishment still on the books.
The Washington Post called the repeal of the death penalty “largely symbolic, because New Hampshire has neither an active death penalty system nor any executions on the horizon.”
Only one person is on death row in the state, and there are no imminent plans to execute him because the state has no lethal injection drugs. The last execution in the state was 1939.
The death-row inmate, Michael Addison, was sentenced more than a decade ago for killing a police officer. New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican, vetoed the death-penalty repeal earlier this month at a facility named for the officer. In a statement Thursday, Sununu said he was “incredibly disappointed” by the veto override.
The repeal affects cases going forward and does not apply to Addison.
Twenty-nine states still have the death penalty, but the number of actual executions is declining.
New Hampshire was one of 11 states that still had the death penalty but hadn’t carried it out in more than a decade, according to a March article by the Pew Research Center. The other states were Kansas (last execution in 1965); Wyoming (1992); Colorado and Oregon (1997); Pennsylvania (1999); California, Montana, Nevada and North Carolina (2006); and Kentucky (2008). The last federal execution was in 2003.
States that regularly execute people include Texas, Florida, Alabama and Georgia.
Cases in Alabama, Texas and Missouri have divided the Supreme Court this term, according to stories in the ABA Journal and ABAJournal.com.
According to the article by University of California at Berkeley law dean Erwin Chemerinsky, four justices believe the death penalty is cruel and unusual. Five justices with the opposite view want to reduce obstacles to its implementation. And justices on both sides are writing opinions “with a passion that is relatively unusual for Supreme Court opinions,” he writes.
Updated on May 31 to correct the New Hampshire governor’s first name. The Journal regrets the error.