New Hampshire House About to Vote on Death Penalty Repeal

[UPDATE: The repeal bill passed the House 225-104 on March 12. On April 17, the Senate voted 12-12 and then tabled the bill.] The New Hampshire House of Representatives has scheduled a vote on repealing the death penalty for March 12. The bill, HB 1170, would replace the death penalty with life in prison without parole for future offenses. The bill overwhelmingly passed the House Criminal Justice and Public Works Committee in February by a vote of 14-3, including supportive votes from several legislators who had previously opposed repeal. Six other states in the past six years have ended the death penalty. Rep. Renny Cushing, the sponsor of the bill, said “The death penalty does not protect public safety, it does not shield our police officers, it does not meet the needs of many families of murder victims, it is not consistent with the values we hear from our religious leaders…those who commit first-degree murder will spend the rest of their lives in prison with no chance for parole.” A death penalty repeal bill passed the legislature in 2000, but was vetoed by the governor. The current governor, Maggie Hassan, opposes the death penalty. New Hampshire has not had an execution since 1939 and has only one person on death row.

(G. Rayno, “Vote on death penalty repeal set for Wednesday,” Union Leader, March 8, 2014). See Recent Legislation and DPIC’s 2013 Year End Report.