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.