Legislative Activity - New Hampshire

  • State Legislators Advance Bills to Ban Juvenile Death Penalty Just weeks after legislators in Wyoming and South Dakota passed legislation to ban the execution of juvenile offenders, lawmakers in Florida are on a similar course that may send a bill that eliminates the death penalty for those under the age of 18 to Governor Jeb Bush for signature into law. Members of the Florida Senate passed the juvenile death penalty ban by a vote of 26-12, and the House is expected to take up the measure later this week. Florida House Speaker Johnnie Byrd, who had been opposed to raising the minimum the age for capital offenders, has indicated that he will allow House members to "vote their conscience" when considering the bill. The legislation's House sponsor, Representative Phillip Brutus of Miami, noted, "I think it will be a pretty strong vote. To invoke the harshest penalty of all - which is death - when somebody is 17 years old is wrong." If the Florida legislature passes and Governor Bush signs the bill into law, the state will become the 20th in the nation to ban the practice and the third state to enact this policy in 2004. New Hampshire's House and Senate overwhelmingly voted for a similar bill earlier this month, but Governor Craig Benson has vowed to veto the legislation. The Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of the juvenile death penalty this fall when it hears arguments in Roper v. Simmons. (Various news sources including the Sun-Sentinel of Florida and The Union Leader of New Hampshire, April 27, 2004).
  • New Hampshire, Wyoming House Pass Bills to Ban Juvenile Death Penalty Less than a month after the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it will reconsider the constitutionality of the death penalty for juvenile offenders, two state legislative bodies have passed measures to ban the practice. The New Hampshire Senate passed its bill to ban the execution of those who were under the age of 18 at the time of their offense on February 19, 2004. The measure now moves to the House, where a committee hearing and vote are expected in the coming weeks. The Wyoming House also passed a measure to ban the execution of juvenile offenders. The House voted 45-12 in support of the bill on February 20, and members of the Wyoming Senate are expected to consider the ban next week. A bill is also advancing in the South Dakota legislature. Currently, 17 of the 38 states that maintain capital punishment forbid the execution of those who were juveniles at the time of their crime. The juvenile death penalty is also forbidden under the federal government's statute. See Juvenile Death Penalty.
  • On April 5, 2001, a bill to abolish the death penalty (HB 171) was defeated in the House by a 188-180 vote.