STUDIES: New Hampshire Commission Holds Public Hearing on Death Penalty

The New Hampshire Commission to Study the Death Penalty held a hearing on September 16 at Keene State College, inviting the public to share their views on whether the state should repeal the death penalty. Among those testifying were a retired police chief, a former prisoner, and the mother of a murder victim, all of whom spoke against capital punishment. Margaret Hawthorn, whose daughter was murdered last April, told the Commission that she did not want her daughter’s killer to be put to death. “The best possible outcome for me would be for there to be no more death. One was enough.” Mark Edgington, who served time in a Florida prison, said his time as an inmate changed him from a supporter to an opponent of capital punishment. Edgington said that in his experience the death penalty is not an effective deterrent: “Having spent 9 years in prison, let me tell you, those men don’t care about your deterrents.” Former Marlborough police chief Raymont Dodge agreed with Edgington, saying that people who commit crimes do not weigh the pros and cons beforehand. Dodge also cited wrongful convictions as a serious concern: “We can release an innocent person from jail. We cannot release an innocent person from the grave.” The Commission is scheduled to release its report to the legislature in December.

(S. Trefethen, “Punishment debates: State death penalty commission hears from public,” Keene Sentinel, September 18, 2010). See Studies, Innocence and Victims.