Death Penalty

New Hampshire Just Abolished the Death Penalty

State lawmakers reached across the aisle for a bipartisan push against capital punishment.


New Hampshire has just repealed capital punishment, the last of the New England states to do so.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 law.

Sununu belongs to the GOP, but this effort to end the death penalty was bipartisan. "Ending New Hampshire's death penalty would not have been possible without significant Republican support," says Hannah Cox, national manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. "Increasing numbers of GOP state lawmakers believe capital punishment does not align with their conservative values of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and valuing life."

"I believe more states across the nation, inspired by what New Hampshire accomplished, will recognize that the death penalty cannot exist in a society that aspires to true justice," adds Shari Silberstein, executive director of Equal Justice USA.

At least two of the bill's backers have experienced the murder of a loved one. State Rep. Renny Cushing (D–Rockingham) lost both his father and brother-in-law to criminals, but he calls the death penalty "ritual killing by government employees" that does nothing beyond filling "another coffin and widen[ing] the pain." State Sen. Ruth Ward (R–Stoddard) lost her father to a murderer when she was very young. She recounted her own experience just before voting for the legislation, saying: "My mother forgave whoever it was, and I will vote in favor of this bill."