Death Penalty

New Hampshire Is One Step Closer To Abolishing the Death Penalty

The bipartisan push to remove capital punishment from state law is moving forward.


New Hampshire is one step closer to abolishing the death penalty.

On Thursday, the New Hampshire House voted 247-123 in favor of House Bill 455, which would replace the death penalty with "imprisonment for life without the possibility for parole." The bill was previously vetoed by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu in early May. At the time of his veto, Sununu urged lawmakers to keep capital punishment on the books.

The bill will now head to the New Hampshire Senate, where they will decide whether they, too, will override the veto.

"The veto override was passed on a strong bipartisan vote because more conservatives than ever know the death penalty is a failed government program that does not value life, threatens innocent people, and wastes money," said Hannah Cox, national manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, in a statement provided to Reason. "These factors drove many Republican New Hampshire lawmakers to vote for repeal this year, as they did last year when the GOP controlled the chamber." 

"It is not a credit to one party, but a recognition that in these partisan and divisive times, there is at least one issue that rises above party," wrote Jeanne Hruska, political director of the New Hampshire American Civil Liberties Union, prior to the vote. Hruska also noted that efforts to end the death penalty in New Hampshire were thwarted by Democratic and Republican governors alike.

New Hampshire is not the only state considering a repeal of the death penalty. Georgia introduced such a bill in March. Despite the state-led reforms against the practice, however, the Pew Research Center found an uptick in support for capital punishment in 2018. However, a majority of poll respondents in 2015 acknowledged the risk of killing an innocent person and that the practice did little to deter serious crime.

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  1. I am against the death penalty for only one reason: it’s too expensive.

    1. Wait till the legal community gets their hands on life without parole. They’ll milk that for every penny too.

    2. I am against the death penalty because cops are stupid, prosecutors lazy, and both are corrupt..

      Plus, if the death penalty is actually supposed to be a deterrent, then executions should be televised and public.
      If it’s revenge, there are way too many wrongfully accused.

      1. The death penalty is punishment for one person, and cannot be thought of as anything other than that.

    3. I’m against it because it is completely irreversible and enough innocent people have been executed that the risk of that happening again seems too high. Some people do deserve to die, but I don’t trust juries and judges to get it right in every case.
      Prison sucks, but at least there is a chance you might be let out and even compensated for a wrongful conviction.

      1. War is also irreversible.

        Are you against that too?

        1. I accept the necessity of war when there is no viable alternative. That is never the case with the death penalty in any remotely civilized society.

          1. You accept the price of war, which is the slaughter of innocrnt people not even accused of hurting anyone.

            1. In extremely rare circumstances, yes, albeit at a far higher bar than currently exists in our society. War is preferable to simply being slaughtered or letting others be slaughtered.

            2. Yeah, war sucks. That’s why you don’t do it unless there is no other good option. War is what happens when civil interactions don’t work. The use of the death penalty within the criminal justice system is not a parallel situation. The consequences of locking someone up for life instead of killing them are nothing. The consequences of not defending yourself against an invasion or serious threat are a bit more severe.

        2. False analogy.

          Just because two things share a common characteristic doesn’t make them comparable.

          Wars can be justified for many reasons. The only way to stop the Axis powers from enslaving the world, and exterminating the undesirable, was to defeat them in war. Ask Russia about that. Nations as well as individuals, have the right to use lethal force in self-defense, and it’s often the only option.

          The threat posed by a murderer doesn’t require his death to negate, imprisoning him can also render him harmless. Killing him after he’s been rendered harmless serves no purpose, other than revenge.

          In warfare, when the enemy no longer poses a threat, when they’ve surrendered and laid down the weapons, we don’t kill them.

  2. “the practice did little to deter serious crime.”
    But it prevents repeat crimes. 100%

    1. Not if the wrong citizen is executed and the criminal is free to offend anew.

      1. Wow, the Rev. makes a non-idiotic comment.

  3. I have no problem with that.

  4. How about exile (temporary or life-time)? With violations punishable by death.

    1. Send them to the penal colony on Pluto.

  5. Question for the anti-death penalty types:

    Are you against it because you don’t trust the government to get it wrong, much like they get everything else wrong?

    If that’s the case, how do you feel about the death penalty in Anarcho-Capitalistan where it’s meted out by David Friedman-like Protection Agencies?

    1. 1. Yes, that’s the biggest reason.
      2. I’m not an anarchist, and one big reason is because it would devolve into death squads masquerading as a justice system.

    2. I’m sympathetic to the death penalty in principle, but when I learn of the “errors” (sometimes a worse term is called for) in administering the system, I’m not so sure how confident I am in the policy.

    3. i’d feel better if the jury pulled the trigger too.

    4. I’m against the death penalty because I don’t think it’s necessary. Why kill someone against his will if it’s not necessary?

      I view Anarcho-Capitalistan as a moderately interesting thought experiment that I’d never want to try in real life.

    5. “Are you against it because you trust the government to get it wrong, much like they get everything else wrong?”
      Yup. Pretty much. There are tons of people who deserve to be executed in the most painful way possible, but too many people lie for such a finality to be used.

      Plus, I worry that eventually the left-wing utopians will extend the honor to those that oppose their ideas and already having the state kill people makes the transition easier.

    6. Mostly because government fucks everything up. And a bit because executing someone is unprovoked violence in the sense that the person doing the killing isn’t acting directly in self defense or in defense of anyone else.
      In Ancapistan, I guess you need to take care of dangerous people somehow. But I’m not the kind of anarchist who thinks that an anarchist “system” is something that is ever going to happen (unless, maybe, space colonization or sea-steading or something where people have the ability to get away from governments as they form really takes off).

    7. Yep, too easy (and proven common enough) to make a mistake that can’t be undone.

      But I would like to see some prison conditions bad enough that some inmates might wish they were dead.

  6. According to Wikipedia, there’s only one guy (a cop killer) on death row in NH, and they haven’t executed anyone since 1939.

    1. I wish they’d just kill that guy. Then it would be much easier to get a repeal passed.
      As a NH resident, I’ve been hearing this debate for years now.

    2. Killing cops isn’t worse than killing civilians

    3. Would it not be more convenient to enforce the death penalty in a very cheap method? I seem to think that keeping people in jail costs more taxpayers money than just ending some of these prisoners life. I do believe everyone deserves a second chance but if you get sentenced for life that’s pretty much a dead end.

  7. I don’t buy the arguments. Yes, it’s morally bad to kill innocents and we’ve done it many times before, but this statement presumes that all innocents are eventually exonerated. How is killing an innocent man any better than jailing him for life without parole? Why fill them with false hope? Innocents will still be jailed until they die just like they are right now. The moral argument goes too far and delegitimizes the entire concept of jail despite it being necessary. Criminals must be punished and segregated from civil society.

    Execution should be a quick, cost-effective alternative that doesn’t offend the morality of society the same way subsidizing crime does. The fact that victims are paying to feed and shelter murderers and rapists via taxation is tragic.

    1. And some innocents sentenced to life are exonerated. How is it better to execute all innocent people convicted of certain crimes than to lock up only some of them for life?

  8. How is killing an innocent man any better than jailing him for life without parole?
    People generally want to live even in horrible situations. How is that not obvious? Can you honestly say you would rather die than be given an unjust life sentence? As long as you are alive, there is hope that you could be exonerated and released someday. People keep going every day with slimmer hopes than that.

  9. The problem with the death penalty is not that the killing, it is the silencing, and the fact that you “can’t go back” — giving the government the ability to kill people in an *organised* way gives them the power to silence people.

  10. […] states to do so. Today the state Senate voted to override Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of an anti–death penalty bill. The state House did the same last week, so the legislation will now become […]

  11. […] states to do so. Today the state Senate voted to override Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of an anti–death penalty bill. The state House did the same last week, so the legislation will now become […]

  12. […] England states to do so. Today the state Senate voted to override Gov. Chris Sununu’s veto of an anti–death penalty bill. The state House did the same last week, so the legislation will now become […]

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