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Death Penalty Opponents Say They Will Try Again after Senate Vote Rejecting Repeal Measure

NHCADP Press Release 5.22.14

CONCORD – With the New Hampshire Senate’s rejection of the second bid to repeal the state’s death penalty this year, opponents of capital punishment say they are obviously disappointed by the outcome but determined to revive the issue in a future legislative session.

“The repeal movement in New Hampshire made tremendous progress this year,” said Barbara Keshen, board chair of New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NHCADP). “We witnessed the strongest House votes ever with greater than 2-to-1 margins and clear bi-partisan support.”

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The House voted 226-110 on May 14 to approve SB202, amended to include repeal of the state’s death penalty and replacing it with life in prison without the possibility of parole for those convicted of capital murder.

The House also voted 225-104 to pass HB1170, the original repeal bill, on March 12.

The Senate tabled HB1170 on April 17 after a 12-12 deadlock.

Without a majority vote for repeal, the state’s death penalty statute remains unchanged.

Repeal supporters believed the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma on April 29, together with the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences study released the previous week estimating more than four percent of those sentenced to death from 1973-2004 (340 people) were likely innocent, might sway some legislators who previously supported the death penalty.

“I was approached by previous repeal opponents in the House saying that recent events had changed their minds,” said Representative Renny Cushing (D-Hampton), a longtime repeal advocate and co-sponsor of HB1170. “Given time and increased exposure to the deep flaws in the death penalty system, I believe more legislators will come to oppose the death penalty.”

“We are naturally disappointed to fall short of repeal this year, but we can celebrate a strong bipartisan effort and a growing grassroots membership that nearly doubled this year,” commented Arnie Alpert NHCADP Board member and New Hampshire Program Director for the American Friends Service Committee.

Alpert credited this year’s progress to the active participation of faith leaders, former law enforcement officers, murder victim family members, and supportive organizations such as the NH Civil Liberties Union and Amnesty International, and other organizations.

Alpert also noted an unusual coalition of libertarian, conservative and progressive members of the NH Legislature who worked together throughout the legislative session. “We have a growing coalition that is committed to making repeal a reality,” he added.

Looking ahead to next year, Keshen said, “The strong showing we had this year demonstrates that the issue of death penalty repeal is not going away. It’s not a matter of whether it will happen, but when.”

NHCADP PRESS RELEASE 5.14.14

Death Penalty Repeal Returns to Senate with Strong Endorsement from New Hampshire House

SB202 VoteFollowing a bi-partisan 226 to 110 vote by the NH House of Representatives in favor of a bill with a death penalty repeal amendment (see roll call votes here), the Senate will have another chance to consider the issue this year.

“The death penalty is bad public policy, part of a system that makes mistakes, fails the families of murder victims, does not make society safer, and uses resources that would be better spent meeting the needs of victims and law enforcement,” said Representative Renny Cushing, who led the floor debate.

Like the previous House vote in favor of death penalty repeal, today’s House vote showed bi-partisan support for ending capital punishment.   “We can’t trust the government to decide who should be put to death,” said Representative Kathy Souza, a Republican considered a leader of right-to-life conservatives.

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The repeal amendment was adopted 218 to 117 following a debate over the merits of death penalty repeal.  The bill as amended was approved 226 to 110 without additional debate.

The bill under consideration today, SB 202, started out as a bill to close a loophole in the state’s burglary statute.  But following the botched execution of Clayton Lockett in Oklahoma, a report from the National Academy of Sciences indicating that up to 4% of all defendants sentenced to death were actually innocent, and an Amnesty International report putting the United States in the company of China, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia as the top five countries executing their own citizens, the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee amended the bill with a brief provision changing the penalty for capital murder from execution to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

State law currently provides that executions will take place by lethal injection or by hanging.

“We cannot have the death penalty in a nation that bars cruel and unusual punishment as one of its fundamental legal principles,” said Barbara Keshen, a former homicide prosecutor who serves as Chair of the NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

“As Chief Justice Broderick told the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, we cannot have a criminal sanction that does not come with an eraser to be used when errors are discovered,” Keshen said.

Representative Cushing noted that under state law (RSA 21:38) a change in the penalty for a crime does not affect the sentences of criminals who were already convicted and sentenced.  That means this bill would have no direct effect on the sentence of the state’s one death row inmate if it passes the Senate and is signed into law by Governor Maggie Hassan.

The repeal amendment passed the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on a bi-partisan 13 to 5 vote. The amended bill then was recommended “ought to pass” by a 14 to 4 vote.

HB 1170, repealing the death penalty, was approved in the House 225 to 104 on March 12.  It attained a tie vote of 12 to 12 in the Senate, April 17. Following the tie vote, the bill was tabled.  Now, with the adoption of an amended version of SB 202, the Senate will take up the death penalty issue again without having to remove HB 1170 from the table.

“The events in Oklahoma warrant giving legislators another opportunity this year to get New Hampshire out of the execution business,” said Representative Cushing, who noted that many lawmakers have changed their minds on the death penalty over the years.

New Bill for Death Penalty Repeal

Click here for Majority Report on SB202, the bill amended to re-introduce death penalty repeal. The bill was voted on by the House on May 14 where it passed 226-110. It now makes its way over to the Senate for reconsideration, most likely the week of May 22.

Justice Reaper
Click to read CNN’s coverage of lethal injection controversy
Ring the Capitol day of action & Senate vote on HB1170 – April 17, 2014

John Breckinridge on Rachel Maddow April 18:


Repeal Bill Still in Play after Senate Vote

Senator Donna Soucy et al in Vote on HB1170
Manchester’s Senator Donna Soucy speaks for passage of HB1170

April 17 — Following a vote that put a death penalty repeal bill “on the table,” the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty will redouble its efforts to pass legislation this year that would end the practice of executions.

“Death penalty abolition is the right course for our state to take from the perspective of sound public policy and humane values,” said Barbara Keshen, the Coalition’s chair.

The Coalition will continue to work with its members and with legislators to gain the necessary support for an approved repeal bill to reach the Governor’s desk by the end of June.

Hundreds of repeal supporters have attended public hearings, prayer vigils, and educational programs throughout the state since the beginning of the year.   “More people than ever before are committed to ending this barbaric practice,” Keshen said.          More news on Senate Vote.

4/3/14 Senate Hearing News

Photos from the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on HB1170 – April 3, 2014

Videos of full Senate Hearing:

Click to reveal news on Senate Hearing
Click on titles to read full articles.

Firm opposition to death penalty at hearing

CONCORD – By LYNNE TUOHY, The Associated Press – The former chief justice of New Hampshire’s Supreme Court urged senators Thursday to repeal the state’s death penalty, saying New Hampshire is better than countries like North Korea and Iraq that embrace capital punishment.

Hearing on death penalty repeal today

The Union Leader
“The death penalty does nothing for public safety, fails the families of murder victims, costs far more than the alternatives and conflicts with the moral teachings of our society’s major religious traditions,” said Barbara Keshen, NH Coalition to Abolish the Death …

Senate committee holds hearing on death penalty repeal

WMUR Manchester
NEW HAMPSHIRE WOULD COME TO THE FINAL CONCLUSION THAT IT CAN LIVE WITHOUT THE DEATH PENALTY COME AT THAT IT WOULD RESPOND TO THE HIS STORE CALL TO HAVE A STATE THAT IS GROUNDED IN CULTURE OF RESPECT .
Click here for photos from the crossover week vigils in March

3/12: House Votes Decisively to Repeal the Death Penalty!

How did your Representative vote? Check here.
Full news on Repeal Vote here.
More news on House Criminal Justice Committee proceedings here.

Click here to Watch full video of floor debate
Jump to section.  This video contains the follow time markers. When you click on any link, it will take you to YouTube. Once there, below the video, click on “show more.” Now you will be able to access any section randomly.

(0:00:13) HB1170 announced
(0:00:43) Rep. K. Murphy offers Floor Amendment 14-0205h to expand death penalty
(0:11:49) Rep. K. Murphy yields to question from Rep. DeSimone
(0:12:34) Rep. Cebrowski speaks in opposition to FLAM 14-0205h
(0:18:27) Rep. Gagnon speaks in opposition to FLAM 14-0205h
(0:23:54) Rep. Wallner speaks in opposition to FLAM 14-0205h
(0:27:47) Rep. Warden speaks in opposition to FLAM 14-0205h
(0:30:03) Rep. Levesque speaks in opposition to FLAM 14-0205h
(0:37:25) Rep. Baldasaro speaks in support of FLAM 14-0205h
(0:40:12) Rep. Baldasaro yields to a question from Rep. Copeland
(0:41:13) Rep. Baldasaro yields to a question from Rep. Dumaine
(0:42:11) Rep. Baldasaro yields to a question from Rep. O’Flaherty
(0:43:40) Rep. Rowe speaks in opposition to FLAM 14-0205h
(0:48:05) Rep. Cushing speaks in opposition to FLAM 14-0205h
(0:58:00) Rep. Cebrowski requests roll call on FLAM 14-0205h
(0:59:36) Rep. Sapareto recognized for a parliamentary inquiry
(1:00:38) Rep. Cushing recognized for a parliamentary inquiry
(1:00:57) Roll call vote to Adopt FLAM 14-0205h – FAILS [YEA 83, NAY 247] (1:02:13) Rep. Vaillancourt offers Floor Amendment 14-0916h to change death sentences to LWOP
(1:22:42) Rep. Vaillancourt yields to a question from Rep. Burt
(1:24:38) Rep. Vaillancourt yields to a question from Rep. Sapareto
(1:25:38) Rep. Vaillancourt yields to a question from Rep. Cali-Pitts
(1:26:55) Rep. Vaillancourt yields to a question from Rep. Heffron
(1:27:42) Rep. Harriott-Gathright speaks in opposition to FLAM 14-0916h
(1:31:08) Rep. Baldasaro requests roll call on FLAM 14-0916h
(1:32:38) Rep. Vaillancourt recognized for parliamentary inquiry
(1:33:17) Rep. Cushing recognized for parliamentary inquiry
(1:33:45) Roll call vote to Adopt FLAM 14-0916h – FAILS [YEA 85, NAY 245] (1:34:57) Rep. Notter speaks in opposition to Ought To Pass on HB1170
(1:42:58) Rep. Peterson speaks in opposition to Ought To Pass on HB1170
(1:43:58) Rep. Mangiputi speaks in support of Ought To Pass on HB1170
(1:47:44) Rep. Cushing requests roll call on Ought To Pass on HB1170
(1:50:03) Rep. Jasper recognized for a parliamentary inquiry
(1:51:24) Rep. Cushing recognized for a parliamentary inquiry
(1:52:33) Roll call vote on Ought To Pass on HB1170 – PASSES [YEA 225, NAY 104]

New Hampshire Nears Repeal of Death Penalty

HB1170VoteBoard_3.12.14 300bNY Times
By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE
MARCH 12, 2014
CONCORD, N.H. — ….On Wednesday, New Hampshire’s House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly, 225 to 104, to repeal the death penalty. The fate of the bill in the state’s Senate is less certain, but many give it a strong chance of passage. And the new governor, Maggie Hassan, is prepared to sign it, a change from 2000, when a repeal bill last made it to the governor’s desk, where it was vetoed.

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If New Hampshire abolishes the death penalty, it would become the 19th state to do so. Before 2007, no state had abolished it since the 1960s. But six states — Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New Mexico and New York — have abolished it in the last six years.

Death penalty opponents say the momentum is on their side, with New Hampshire the latest example; the House vote Wednesday was the most lopsided ever for repeal, and it was strongly bipartisan. New Hampshire is the last state in New England to have the death penalty, though it has not executed anyone since 1939.

“New Hampshire is not acting in a vacuum,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. While polls show that a majority of Americans still support the death penalty, that support is at its lowest level in 40 years.

Read full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/13/us/new-hampshire-nears-repeal-of-death-penalty.html?_r=0

Photos from the crossover week vigils in March


Read death penalty news from a religious or faith perspective
Get full coverage of the House Criminal Justice Committee Proceedings
View coverage of the NH House Floor Debate and Vote


Regardless of law, NH not ready to enforce death penalty
May 10, 2014 | The Union Leader

CONCORD – As their counterparts across the country grapple with questions raised after a failed execution attempt in Oklahoma, New Hampshire prison officials are beginning to look at how the death penalty would be carried out here.

“We don’t have a procedure to follow, a time line for how one would play out,” said Jeff Lyons, spokesman for the New Hampshire Department of Corrections. “I know we’ve visited some states already to see how they handle them, but it will be new territory for us, since we haven’t had one here since 1939.”

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With just one prisoner, Michael Addison, awaiting execution in New Hampshire and a lengthy appeals process ahead, Lyons said state officials have only recently begun to look at crafting best practices for the procedure.

Addison was sentenced to death in 2008 for gunning down Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs. If his Addison would become the first convict executed in New Hampshire since 1939.

The effort to repeal the death penalty in New Hampshire could be picked up again this week, following approval last week of a committee amendment that tacked language onto a bill involving the crime of burglary.

The amendment, sponsored by Reps. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, and John Cebrowski, R-Bedford, would change the penalty for capital murder from execution by lethal injection or hanging to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole. It would go into effect immediately upon passage.

“The events in Oklahoma warrant giving legislators another opportunity this year to get New Hampshire out of the execution business,” said Cushing.

The amendment passed the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, 13-5, with the amended bill passing, 14-4. Cushing said he expects the amended bill to go before the House on Wednesday and, if passed, would return to the Senate for further consideration.

HB 1170, to repeal the death penalty, was approved in the House on March 12. The Senate Judiciary Committee recommended passage, but the bill received a 12-12 tie vote in the Senate on April 17, tabling the measure.

Sen. Lou D’Alessandro, D-Manchester, voted against repealing the death penalty and hasn’t changed his mind.

“I don’t think the Senate has an appetite to take this up again, but you never know; crazier things have happened,” said D’Alessandro. “I haven’t seen anything that would cause me to change my vote.”

“We know that the death penalty is a difficult topic, a matter of conscience for all legislators,” said Cushing. “As with any subject, as new information comes forward, people sometimes change and evolve in their thinking.”

Lyons said New Hampshire has no “death row.” Addison is housed in the state prison’s maximum-security unit.

“He is isolated, for the most part,” said Lyons.

Lyons said Corrections Commissioner William Wrenn and other prison officials have been looking at protocols put in place in New Hampshire during the 1930s and consulting prison officials in other states to put together a composite of “best practices.”

“From that, we’ll work with the AG’s Office to put together a plan to follow,” said Lyons. “When the prisoner’s last meal is served, where would it take place? Who would be allowed to view the execution? Right now, we don’t have anything in place that spells all that out.”

“We haven’t started that process yet,” said Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice. “It’s my understanding the average appeals process in death penalty cases can last between 10 and 20 years. We are years away at this point.”

The state does not have a lethal-injection chamber. Lyons said a study in 2010 pegged the price tag for constructing a death chamber at $1.8 million.

“We haven’t put in a request for those funds,” said Lyons.

Lyons said state law would prevent Addison from being transferred to another state that has a death chamber. The official said the state would most likely carry out an execution in a prison gymnasium instead of building a death chamber for one prisoner.

Lyons noted the state does not have a stock of chemicals used in lethal injections. Most lethal injections performed in the United States involve an anesthetic called sodium thiopental, which renders the prisoner unconscious before two other drugs are administered, one to cause paralysis and the other to stop the heart. A European ban on exporting sodium thiopental has led U.S. execution officials to try using new, untested drugs, reported USA Today. Several of these drugs are being looked at as the cause of the bungled execution attempt in Oklahoma, where a prisoner appeared to regain consciousness 20 minutes after the drugs were administered. He later died of a heart attack.

New Hampshire is one of two states in the country that allows hanging as a method of execution. Title LXII Criminal Code Chapter 630 Homicide, Section 630:5 XIII permits death by hanging if lethal injection cannot be carried out. In Washington state, lethal injection is administered unless an inmate requests to be put to death by hanging.

“Our law does allow for hanging to be used if lethal injection couldn’t be,” said Lyons.

The last person executed in New Hampshire was Howard Long, an Alton shopkeeper. Long was hanged at the State Prison for Men in Concord on July 14, 1939, after being convicted of killing and sexually assaulting a young boy in Alton. Prior to Long’s death, 11 other prisoners had been executed by hanging going back to 1869. Lyons, who said he has researched Long’s execution extensively, said the room where he was hanged is now a recreation room for prisoners.

“There wasn’t a gallows there,” said Lyons. “The rope was slung over a pipe across the ceiling, and a trap door in the floor would open beneath the inmate and the body would drop.”

The rope used to hang Long was subsequently cut into pieces and distributed to law enforcement agencies across the state to serve as a reminder of the execution. Lyons said the noose had been hung on a prison wall before it was put away for historical preservation.

NH House Revives Death Penalty Repeal

NHCADP PRESS RELEASE 5.6.14

Following approval of a committee amendment which tacked death penalty repeal onto a bill involving the crime of burglary, the NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty said it is important for the issue to return to the attention of legislators this year.

“The botched execution of Clayton Lockett last week in Oklahoma is yet another piece of evidence that the death penalty needs to be put behind us,” said Barbara Keshen, the organization’s chairperson.  “We cannot have the death penalty in a nation that bars cruel and unusual punishment as one of its fundamental legal principles.”

Click to read more

Keshen also noted recent publication of a study in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences which concluded that more than 4% of those sentenced to death from 1973 to 2004 were innocent.  “As Chief Justice Broderick told the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, we cannot have a criminal sanction that does not come with an eraser to be used when errors are discovered.”

The amendment, sponsored by Representatives Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) and John Cebrowski (R-Bedford) simply changes the penalty for capital murder from execution by lethal injection or hanging to life imprisonment without eligibility for parole.  It would go into effect immediately upon passage.

“The events in Oklahoma warrant giving legislators another opportunity this year to get New Hampshire out of the execution business,” said Representative Cushing.

The Cushing-Cebrowski amendment passed the committee on a bi-partisan 13 to 5 vote.  The amended bill then passed 14 to 4.  It is expected to reach the House floor next week.   Should it pass it will return to the Senate for further consideration.

HB 1170, repealing the death penalty, was approved in the House 225 to 104 on March 12.  It was sent to the Senate floor with a 3 to 2 ought-to-pass recommendation from the Senate Judiciary Committee, and then attained a tie vote of 12 to 12 in the Senate, April 17.  Following the tie vote the bill was tabled.

Dismantling the machinery of death: How America can—and will—abolish the death penalty

NEW HAMPSHIRE has just failed to abolish the death penalty—by one vote. Given that the Granite State has not actually executed anyone since 1939, you might think this doesn’t matter much. But, obviously, it matters to the one man on death row in New Hampshire, a cop-killer called Michael Addison. It matters, also, to the broader campaign to scrap capital punishment in America. And despite the setback in New Hampshire, the abolitionists are slowly winning.

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America is unusual among rich countries in that it still executes people. It does so because its politicians are highly responsive to voters, who mostly favour the death penalty. However, that majority is shrinking, from 80% in 1994 to 60% last year. Young Americans are less likely to support it than their elders. Non-whites, who will one day be a majority, are solidly opposed. Six states have abolished it since 2007, bringing the total to 18 out of 50. The number of executions each year has fallen from a peak of 98 in 1999 to 39 last year (see article).

Many people regret this. Some feel that death is the only fitting punishment for murderers: that it satisfies society’s need for retribution. Some find a religious justification, such as the line in Exodus that calls for: “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth”. Such appeals to emotion or faith are hard to answer, although the Bible also has passages about not casting the first stone, and many conservative evangelicals have ended up in the odd position of prizing life when it comes to abortion, but not when it comes to prisoners (the Catholic church is pro-life on both counts). However, in a secular democracy a law of such gravity must have some compelling rational justification, which the death penalty does not.

Its advocates insist that it deters murderers, thereby saving lives. If this were true, it would be a powerful argument, but there is scant evidence that it is. The murder rate is far higher in America than in the European Union, which has no death penalty. It is also higher in American states that carry out executions than in states that do not. Granted, some studies have found that, if you control for other factors that also influence crime rates, you can make the case that each execution prevents three murders, or five, or even 18. But such studies are based on thin data and questionable assumptions. There were nearly 15,000 murders in America in 2012. The chance of any individual killer being executed is thus microscopic—and distant, since the appeals process can grind on for decades.

Against the death penalty’s uncertain benefits must be set its certain defects. Juries, being human, are fallible. If they jail an innocent man he can be freed and compensated, but he cannot be brought back to life. Since the Supreme Court lifted its suspension of the death penalty in 1976, there are no proven cases where America has executed an innocent. But there are at least ten that look horribly like it. Cameron Todd Willingham, for example, was put to death for starting a deadly fire, although experts blamed faulty wiring (see article).

Vengeance is mine, says the Lord

To avoid miscarriages of justice, America has erected elaborate safeguards. Capital cases are subject to multiple appeals; teams of lawyers haggle over them for years. An unintended consequence of this is that executing a murderer is now perhaps three times more expensive than locking him up for life. The money spent on the machinery of death would probably do more to improve public safety if it were spent on better policing, to catch the ones who currently get away. Put simply, the death penalty looks like a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money, which conservative politicians would normally denounce.

Of late, abolitionists have put a lot of effort into lawsuits to make it harder for states to get hold of the drugs used in lethal injections. This is more likely to delay executions than to end them. A more democratic approach would be to persuade voters that capital punishment is not just barbaric but also costly, ineffective and prey to human error, and that they should therefore back politicians who oppose it. That is how New Mexico, Oregon, Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland, Colorado and Washington stopped or suspended it. New Hampshire will try again. State by state, abolitionists will prevail. America is a nation founded on the principle that governments should not be trusted with too much power; that should include the power to strap people to a gurney and poison them.

Original article

Death penalty repeal dies in tie Senate vote
Seacoast Online, Friday, April 18, 2014

CONCORD — State Sen. Nancy Stiles said she received “hundreds of calls” and “voicemails” asking her to repeal or uphold New Hampshire’s death penalty. The Hampton Republican said she ultimately chose to cast a deciding vote to uphold it on Thursday because of something a pro-repeal advocate told her.

Stiles said the advocate “solidified” her position by stating “you just have to respect life.” Stiles, who was part of a 12-12 vote that prevented the repeal’s passage Thursday, said putting someone behind bars for “23½ hours a day for 20 to 30 to 40 years” like a “caged animal” is “not respecting life either.”

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HOW THEY VOTED

The New Hampshire Senate voted 12-12 Thursday on a measure to repeal the death penalty, meaning the repeal effort failed. Here’s how individual senators voted. A “yes” vote is in favor of repeal.
YES:
Sen. Jeff Woodburn, D-Dalton
Sen. David Watters, D-Dover
Sen. David Pierce, D-Hanover
Sen. Sam Cataldo, R-Farmington
Sen. Andrew Hosmer, D-Laconia
Sen. Bob Odell, R-New London
Sen. Molly Kelly, D-Keene
Sen. Peggy Gilmour, D-Hollis
Sen. Bette Lasky, D-Nashua
Sen. Sylvia Larsen, D-Concord
Sen. Donna Soucy, D-Manchester
Sen. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth
NO:
Sen. Jeanie Forester, R-Meredith
Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro
Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford
Sen. Peter Bragdon, R-Milford
Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry
Sen. David Boutin, R-Hooksett
Sen. John Reagan, R-Deerfield
Sen. Jim Rausch, R-Derry
Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester
Sen. Chuck Morse, R-Salem
Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston
Sen. Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton
“I’ve always felt (capital punishment) was always a good tool to have in the tool box,” said Stiles, adding that it was far from an “easy” vote. “We don’t use it often. When it is used, it is designated by a jury of your peers. There are some crimes that are so heinous that it is deserving.”

The death penalty, which hasn’t been used in New Hampshire since Howard Long was hanged in 1939 for molesting and beating a 10-year-old boy to death, has been at the center of emotional legislative debate for months.

The House voted in March in favor of repeal 225-104, and Gov. Maggie Hassan voiced support for House Bill 1170 if the death sentence of Michael Addison, convicted of killing Manchester police officer Michael Briggs in 2006, remained intact.

The bill was crafted to only affect crimes committed after Jan. 1, 2014.

State Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton, was the bill’s chief sponsor. He said he was “disappointed” about the tie vote, although the efforts weren’t entirely defeated because the Senate also voted Thursday to table the bill, which means it could go up for another vote before the session ends.

“We’ve got a couple of months until the end of the session to find an additional senator who will support the repeal,” said Cushing, whose father and brother-in-law were murdered. “One thing that is certain is that the issue is not going to go away.”

Any senator on the floor can request the bill go back before a vote at any point in the current session as long as the request receives majority support from the Senate, according to the Senate clerk’s office.

Cushing said he’s not sure what it will take to sway one of the bill’s 12 opponents, for whom he said he has “a tremendous amount of respect.” That said, he hopes at least one of them will “be the voice to respond to the call of history” on a “very complicated” issue.

Cushing stood alongside Manchester Police Chief David Mara, a supporter of the death penalty, in the Senate gallery as the vote was taken. The two men represent opposite sides of the issue.

Addison is the only man on death row in New Hampshire. Mara and other Manchester officers have been passionate while speaking against the repeal, stating they were echoing the sentiments of Briggs’ widow and children.

Had repeal passed, New Hampshire would have become the seventh state in seven years to abolish capital punishment.

State Sen. Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, said he didn’t decide which way to vote until late Wednesday night. Prescott said each side made “very strong points,” although he said he ultimately “decided to stand” with “the jurors and the judicial system” because that is what gave him “the greatest peace and clarity” in his decision.

Prescott is a pro-life supporter, although he sees the issues as two separate ideologies because they both “look at the value of a person’s life.” He said supporting the death penalty and opposing abortion protects “a culture of life.”

“When you have that kind of conviction, there are consequences to harming a person’s life,” Prescott said. “It’s not to be done in anything other than the sound judicial makeup that we have in New Hampshire. I believe life is so important that we need to make sure there are consequences to harming life.”

Sen. Bob Odell, a Lempster Republican, said he had always supported the death penalty.

“But today, I’m going to vote for repeal,” he said, saying he wouldn’t know how he would explain an execution to his young grandchildren.

Thursday was the closest a death penalty repeal measure has come since 2000, when both houses passed it before it was vetoed by then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen.

“I thank the Legislature for their open, fair and compassionate consideration of this sensitive issue,” Hassan said after the vote. “I know that each senator listened to all viewpoints and made a difficult decision, and I appreciate the respect they showed for New Hampshire’s democratic process.”

Before the vote, a number of senators spoke of their respect for their colleagues and the difficult decision they faced, saying it was a vote of conscience. The debate was civil, the mood of the chamber somber.

Richard Dieter, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Death Penalty Information Center, testified earlier this month that four states have recently repealed measures that left convicts on death row. In Illinois, the governor commuted death sentences to life in prison without possibility of parole. Three states that repealed the death penalty still have convicts on death row, including Connecticut, Maryland and New Mexico.

The voices of those who supported repeal outnumbered death penalty supporters by about 5-to-1 during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing earlier this month and included the parents and children of murder victims. Some new faces supported repeal, including former Chief Justice John Broderick and former Attorney General Philip McLaughlin.

Representatives of four police agencies testified against repeal, calling the death penalty a “strategic tool” to deal with the worst of criminals.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

 

Measure to Repeal Death Penalty Fails by a Single Vote in New Hampshire Senate
The New York Times, Thursday, April 17, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. — In a tie vote, the New Hampshire Senate deadlocked Thursday on whether to repeal the death penalty, leaving the current law intact and New Hampshire as the lone state in New England that allows the execution of anyone convicted of a capital crime.

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Only one person here is on death row, but his fate had as much to do with the vote as anything else. That inmate, Michael Addison, was convicted in 2008 in the shooting death of a Manchester police officer in 2006.

Proponents of the death penalty want him executed, but his case has been tied up in legal appeals. State senators opposed to the death penalty said that they understood the visceral feelings against Mr. Addison and that their measure would still allow his execution even as it abolished the law authorizing it. Death penalty supporters said that the bill posed constitutional problems and that Mr. Addison’s life could end up being spared.

“Trying to have it both ways was problematic for proponents of the bill — execute one person but repeal it prospectively,” Senator Jeb Bradley, a Republican and the majority leader, said in an interview after the vote.

“That was a bridge too far for a lot of people,” said Mr. Bradley, who opposed repeal.

Some other states that have abolished the death penalty with inmates on death row are facing legal challenges. “That issue is still percolating,” said Richard C. Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. But in none of these states has anyone been freed from death row, he said.

New Hampshire’s action on Thursday stalled for now what had appeared to be momentum toward the abolition of the death penalty. The State House of Representatives approved the repeal 225 to 104 last month, and Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, had been prepared to sign it.

Repeal would have made New Hampshire the 19th state to abolish the death penalty and the last in New England. And it would have been the seventh state in seven years to do so. New Hampshire’s last execution was in 1939.

But the State Senate, where Republicans outnumber Democrats 13 to 11, split 12-to-12 on Thursday, and tie votes are considered defeats. Party leaders had freed their members for what they said would be a vote of conscience. Two Republicans broke with their party and voted for the repeal, and one Democrat voted against it.

Senator Bob Odell was one of the Republicans who supported the death penalty before but voted Thursday to repeal it. He said he did not know how he could explain an execution to his grandchildren.

Another Republican, Senator Russell Prescott, was a pivotal vote and created some drama by not revealing his intentions, even as he spoke Thursday on the Senate floor. When the roll was finally called, he voted against the repeal.

In an interview afterward, Mr. Prescott, who said he made up his mind on Wednesday night, said he thought juries should have the choice of whether to apply the death penalty. When he weighed his options, he said, that was the decision that brought him inner peace.

Death penalty opponents were disappointed and said they would continue to lobby senators in hopes of bringing up the bill again before the legislative session ends June 30.

Arnie Alpert, spokesman for the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, said that many people “evolve” on the issue over the years and that there was still hope of changing minds.

Senator Bette Lasky, a Democrat and the chief sponsor of the bill, said she regretted that she did not have a chance to talk to all of her colleagues. “Many senators were so inundated, even when it came to colleagues talking to them, that they shut down,” she said.

Ms. Lasky said she would bring the bill up again if she knew she had the votes to pass it.

Mr. Bradley, the majority leader, said it was hard to say whether supporters of the repeal could get enough votes to bring the measure back. “At 12-12, it could come off the table, but I suspect it won’t,” he said.

Asked if he would be open to hearing new arguments, Mr. Prescott, the Republican who had long been on the fence, said, “I believe I have heard all the arguments.”

Editorial: New Hampshire should abolish death penalty
Boston Globe, April 16, 2014

NEW HAMPSHIRE stands on the verge of repealing its death penalty, and needs just a few more senators to come out against the increasingly indefensible practice before a vote planned for Thursday. Momentum in Concord has been growing since the state House of Representatives passed a repeal measure in March in a bipartisan vote, and Governor Maggie Hassan has said she will sign the legislation should it make it out of the Senate. But enough senators — including Democrat Jeff Woodburn and Republicans Bob Odell, Russell Prescott, Andy Sanborn, and Jeanie Forrester — remain undecided to leave the measure’s fate in doubt.

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By now, the undecided legislators have heard all the arguments against capital punishment. Death-penalty prosecutions are expensive, verdicts often reflect racial bias, and there’s little evidence that executions actually deter violent crime. Social attitudes have shifted, with more viewing the punishment as inhumane. And the possibility of executing a wrongfully convicted defendant looms over the whole debate; a state with a libertarian heritage like New Hampshire’s should regard with deep suspicion a punishment that can only make sense if the government has the right suspect 100 percent of the time.

Despite the objections, some New Hampshire lawmakers appear sympathetic to the argument that prosecutors need the death penalty in their toolbox so they’ll have more leverage to negotiate tougher plea bargains. Facing the possibility of death if they’re convicted at trial, the theory goes, criminals will be more likely to accept life imprisonment without the possibility of parole.

Yet that’s among the weakest of reasons to keep the death penalty, because it could serve to coerce an innocent or less culpable defendant into taking a plea bargain just to avoid the possibility of death.

Because New Hampshire has not put a convict to death since 1939, past debates on capital punishment in Concord have taken on an overly philosophical feel. The tenor of the debate this time is slightly different: New Hampshire now has a death row prisoner, Michael Addison, who was convicted of murdering a Manchester police officer in 2006. The current repeal proposal wouldn’t void Addison’s sentence and will only apply to future convictions. Still, his case should serve as a reminder that lawmakers can’t approach the death penalty like it’s a legalistic bargaining strategy divorced from the reality of executions. The death penalty hasn’t been shown to be an effective deterrent to crime and distorts the normal processes of justice. New Hampshire should get rid of it.

 

 

N.H. Senate to decide on death penalty repeal
EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA
April 16, 2014
By John Toole
, jtoole@eagletribune.com

Some say Senate tie is possible

— CONCORD — The state Senate takes up the death penalty repeal tomorrow.

“We think it will be very close,” said Arnie Alpert, spokesman for the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Two Southern New Hampshire senators are among those who repeal proponents believe are on the fence: Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, who represents Newton, and Russell Prescott, R-Kingston.

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Stiles earlier this month said she has opposed repeal in the past and believes it is a deterrent to crime, but would listen to advocates.

“It’s fair to say a number of senators are giving deep thought to repeal,” Alpert said. “I would say if you are giving it deep thought, you are more likely to come down on the side of repeal.”

Some are wondering if this is the closest of votes, a tie.

“There is talk among the legislators that this may be a tie,” said Paul Lutz, a member of the repeal coalition from Derry.

A tie isn’t good enough for repeal proponents.

“A tie is not a majority,” Lutz said. “The status quo would prevail.”

Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, opposed repeal in a 3-2 committee vote.

Alpert said Sens. Chuck Morse, R-Salem, and Jim Rausch, R-Derry, are believed to be leaning against repeal.

But he said Morse, the Senate president, and Republican leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, have taken the position this is a vote of conscience and won’t insist the GOP stand together for a partyline vote in the Republican-controlled Senate.

Proponents see Bradley as a no vote as well.

In the Judiciary Committee, Sen. David Boutin, R-Hooksett, joined with Carson in voting against repeal.

Sens. Betty Lasky, D-Nashua, Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, and Sam Cataldo, R-Farmington, voted for repeal.

“There’s a lot going on,” Alpert said of these days leading up to the vote. “People are being encouraged to contact their own senators.”

Lutz, a retired Derry police officer who is now a teacher, said he has called lawmakers.

“I’m doing what anybody else can do, contacting legislators to let them know there’s serious opposition to the death penalty,” he said.

Lutz, a Lutheran, said he is opposed on religious grounds.

“I don’t think the state or any other entity that’s human has the authority to take someone’s life,” he said.

Lutz, as a former police officer, also draws a line between enforcement and justice, while pointing out the incongruity of people saying they oppose violence, but embrace the death penalty.

“My opposition to the death penalty isn’t love and compassion for the person who did it,” Lutz said of murderers. “It’s not true justice.”

He sees the death penalty as society acting out anger and vengeance in a violent way.

“This really perpetuates the very thing we abhor,” Lutz said.

The Rev. Jonathan Hopkins, pastor of Concordia Lutheran Church in Concord, who grew up in Derry and attended Triumphant Cross Lutheran Church in Salem, has testified at House and Senate hearings in favor of repeal.

“My hope is we will repeal the death penalty in New Hampshire,” Hopkins said. “I know it’s going to be a close vote.”

Hopkins said he is hoping senators on the fence realize the death penalty is not something the state needs.

“This is not the way to help our community be spiritually fit,” he said.

Hopkins is encouraging people to call senators and said he believes everyone can still make a difference.

He said he called his senator, Democrat Sylvia Larsen of Concord, even though he knows she supports repeal.

“The more our senators hear from us, the better,” Hopkins said.

Other repeal proponents are meeting with undecided senators to try to convince them to vote for repeal, Alpert said.

Adding meaning to the vote for some of the proponents is that it falls on Holy Thursday, the day in the Christian church calendar that commemorates the Last Supper of Jesus and his apostles.

Alpert said the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty had convened this weekend in Concord for its regular quarterly meeting.

“Other states, other countries are paying close attention to this vote,” Alpert said.

The repeal bill, House Bill 1170, passed in the House last month, 225-104.

Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, has said she will sign the bill if the Legislature approves and sends it to her.

A University of New Hampshire poll conducted this winter showed a majority of residents supporting the death penalty, 58 percent to 29 percent.

But when given a choice between the death penalty or life in prison for someone convicted of murder, the split was 48 percent for death and 40 percent for life in prison.

Alpert said in the Senate Judiciary hearing 52 people spoke in favor of repeal, with just eight in opposition.

Those favoring repeal included the Catholic and Episcopalian bishops, representatives of the New Hampshire Council of Churches and the American Friends Service Committee, former state Supreme Court justice John Broderick and former state Attorney General Phil McLaughlin.

Opponents included Manchester police, state police, chiefs of police and the New Hampshire Police Association.

Editorial: Senators should put justice above vengeance in NH
Nashua Telegraph, Sunday, April 13, 2014

It is unfortunate that Michael Addison’s fate has tainted the debate over whether New Hampshire should abolish the death penalty. No single murderer and no single killing – no matter how despicable or remorseless, no matter how horrific or callous – should corrupt the state’s moral identity.

We should aspire to a judicial system that puts a higher value on the pursuit of justice for all citizens than on blood vengeance against a few.

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Addison, of course, was sentenced to death for killing Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs in 2006. It remains a raw wound for anyone associated with the case.

That includes U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte, who prosecuted the case against Briggs when she served as the state’s attorney general.

Ayotte took to the airwaves last week to oppose the death penalty’s repeal because, she said, it could let Addison at least partially off the hook.

“These people who are voting on this need to understand they could effectively be commuting Michael Addison’s sentence – or reducing his sentence for having killed Michael Briggs in the line of duty,” Ayotte told WGIR’s Jack Heath. “I think that is wrong. I think it is sending the absolute wrong message.”

The senator must not be aware of the unanimous New Hampshire Supreme Court ruling against Kurt Carpentino, who sought to have a sentence for aggravated felonious sexual assault reduced because of subsequent changes to the law by the Legislature. Ruling in January of this year, the court said neither the federal or state constitutions offered protections for Carpentino’s claim.

Still, by repealing the death penalty, the Legislature would prevent any future Michael Addisons from being executed. That’s OK. A life-in-prison sentence is not getting off easy. (One prison survival website offers the tip “workout and study/practice street-fighting techniques. At some point soon you are going to be tested and you’ll need to show that you can look after yourself.” It also recommends wearing boxer shorts when showering and sticking with your race.)

Even for those who would prefer that Addison be put to death, allowing people like him to live is a small price to pay for ensuring that an innocent person is not put to death. The Innocence Project reports there have been 314 post-conviction DNA exonerations in United States history. Seventeen of those people were on death row.

Can’t happen in New Hampshire?

Consider the perspective of Barbara Keshen, chairwoman of the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. Her experiences as a public defender and state prosecutor have led her to the conclusion that New Hampshire’s criminal justice system cannot be trusted to be perfect.

“I saw my share of mistakes in more than 30 years as a trial lawyer: incomplete investigations, false confessions, incorrect eyewitness testimony, lab technicians using outdated equipment, attorneys who misunderstand or mischaracterize evidence, improper judicial rulings; jury verdicts based on passion,” Keshen wrote in the Concord Monitor. “Any of these can lead to unfair results. Well-meaning, educated people, all wanting to do the right thing – and still mistakes get made.”

The House-passed repeal sneaked through the Senate Judiciary Committee last Thursday with a 3-2 ought-to-pass recommendation. The full Senate is scheduled to take up the issue this Thursday in a vote that’s pegged as too close to call.

When senators consider their votes, they should remember that ending the death penalty isn’t about punishing the guilty, it’s about ensuring the innocent live to tell about it.

 

On revote, N.H. Senate panel endorses death penalty repeal measure
Concord Monitor, Friday, April 11, 2014

The Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday revisited the idea of repealing New Hampshire’s death penalty and recommended that it pass, setting up a potentially historic vote in the chamber next week.

The bill represents the most energetic recent effort to repeal the state’s centuries-old death penalty. It passed the committee by a 3-2 vote, days after the same panel issued a tie vote that could have sounded the death knell on the repeal effort.

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The House has voted resoundingly for repeal, and the governor supports it. The Thursday vote in the Republican-controlled Senate is said to be too close to call.

“I think it will be a tight vote,” Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley told the Associated Press. “I think it will not break down all that much on party lines.”

“It’s a vote of conscience,” said Bradley, a Wolfeboro Republican who opposes repeal.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 2-2 Tuesday with one member absent, an outcome that would have automatically sent a message to the Senate to kill the repeal measure.

The committee reconsidered the issue yesterday in deference to Democrat Donna Soucy of Manchester, who missed Tuesday’s meeting due to a family medical issue. There was no debate.

Sens. Bette Lasky, a Nashua Democrat, Sam Cataldo, a Farmington Republican, and Soucy voted for repeal. Sens. Sharon Carson of Londonderry and David Boutin of Hooksett, both Republicans, voted against it.

The state is the closest to repealing the death penalty that it’s been since 2000, when both houses of the Legislature approved repeal, but then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen vetoed it.

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she would sign the repeal measure, because it wouldn’t affect the death sentence of Michael Addison – convicted of killing Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs in 2006. Addison is the only death row convict in the state, which has not seen an execution since 1939.

Death penalty opponents greeted yesterday’s vote with cautious optimism.

Rep. Renny Cushing, a Hampton Democrat whose father and brother-in-law were murdered in separate crimes, has not wavered in his opposition to the death penalty through nearly two decades of sponsoring repeal measures.

“Everybody’s a swing vote,” Cushing said after yesterday’s vote.

“It’s not a party issue,” he added. “There are a lot of senators genuinely wrestling with this.”

The worldwide Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is holding its quarterly meeting in Concord this weekend, and its members are meeting with senators to urge repeal.

“They see this as a historic vote,” said Arnie Alpert, spokesman for the New Hampshire Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

The House last month voted 225-104 in favor of repeal. The vote in the 24-member Senate – with 13 Republicans and 11 Democrats – could come down to a one-vote margin. A tie vote would kill the measure.

 

Senate panel endorses death penalty repeal measure
Boston.com, Thursday, April 10, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday revisited the idea of repealing New Hampshire’s death penalty and recommended that it pass, setting up a potentially historic vote in the chamber next week.

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The bill represents the most energetic recent effort to repeal the state’s centuries-old death penalty. It passed the committee by a 3-2 vote, days after the same panel issued a tie vote that could have sounded the death knell on the repeal effort.

The House has voted resoundingly for repeal, and the governor supports it. The April 17 vote in the Republican-controlled Senate is said to be too close to call.

‘‘I think it will be a tight vote,’’ Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley told the Associated Press. ‘‘I think it will not break down all that much on party lines.’’

‘‘It’s a vote of conscience,’’ said Bradley, a Wolfeboro Republican who opposes repeal.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 2-2 Tuesday with one member absent, an outcome that would have automatically sent a message to the Senate to kill the repeal measure.

The committee reconsidered the issue Thursday in deference to Democrat Donna Soucy of Manchester, who missed Tuesday’s meeting due to a family medical issue. There was no debate.

Sens. Soucy; Bette Lasky, D-Nashua; and Sam Cataldo, R-Farmington, voted for repeal; Sens. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, and David Boutin, R-Hooksett, voted against.

The state is the closest to repealing the death penalty that it’s been since 2000, when both houses of the Legislature approved repeal, but then-Gov. Jeanne Shaheen vetoed it.

Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she would sign the repeal measure, because it wouldn’t affect the death sentence of Michael Addison — convicted of killing Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs in 2006. Addison is the only death row convict in a state that has not seen an execution since 1939.

Death penalty opponents greeted Thursday’s vote with cautious optimism.

Rep. Renny Cushing, a Hampton Democrat whose father and brother-in-law were murdered in separate crimes, has not wavered in his opposition to the death penalty through nearly two decades of sponsoring repeal measures.

‘‘Everybody’s a swing vote,’’ Cushing said after Thursday’s vote.

‘‘It’s not a party issue,’’ he added. ‘‘There are a lot of senators genuinely wrestling with this.’’

The worldwide Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is holding its quarterly meeting in Concord this weekend, and its members are meeting with Senators to urge repeal.

‘‘They see this as a historic vote,’’ said Arnie Alpert, spokesman for the New Hampshire Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

The House last month voted 225-104 in favor of repeal. The vote in the 24-member Senate — with 13 Republicans and 11 Democrats — could come down to a one-vote margin. A tie vote would kill the measure.

 

We urge N.H. Senate to repeal death penalty
Seacoast online, Sunday, April 6, 2014

The death penalty repeal passed by an overwhelming margin in the New Hampshire House on March 12 and the fate of this great moral question now rests with the state Senate.

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Whether the state should kill certain convicted murderers or put them in prison for life is a highly charged question that doesn’t break along traditional political lines. We expect this will be a vote of conscience for most senators and they’ll need to think deeply about the testimony they have heard from those who favor repeal and those who oppose it.

Our editorial board has been fully persuaded by those who have testified in favor of repeal.

On March 25, former Supreme Court Justice Joseph Nadeau and Chief Justice John Broderick wrote an op-ed in this paper titled simply: “Time to abolish the death penalty in New Hampshire.” Broderick again stated his support for repeal at a marathon Senate Judiciary Committee meeting this past Thursday.

The justices rationally explained why the death penalty is not a deterrent to murder, does not provide society greater protection than life without parole, has a track record of bias against the poor and racial minorities, takes more time and money to prosecute, and actually makes healing more difficult for the families of murder victims.

“Eliminating state executions says nothing about criminals who kill, but it says a great deal about a society that does not,” the justices wrote. “For us, the principle for any killing is the same: The intentional taking of human life, except in self-defense or in the defense of others, is not acceptable no matter who does the killing. Abolishing the death penalty will not compromise public safety, but it may replace rage with reason, retribution with self-respect and enrich the character of our people as a whole.”

Judge Walter Murphy, chairman of the state’s death penalty study commission, reached a similar conclusion in 2009. “There is no assurance that the death penalty does what its advocates claim is its purpose; nor is there any reason to believe it is necessary for public safety,” Murphy wrote in the commission’s final report. “The alternative, that is, life without the possibility of parole, offers the same protection without the attendant risks of mistakes and without the vast expense both monetary and otherwise.”

Many religious leaders have spoken in favor of death penalty repeal including New Hampshire Episcopal Bishop Robert Hirschfeld and Catholic Bishop Peter Libasci.

“Repealing the death penalty is a way for the state to counteract and push back against the culture of violence,” Hirschfeld testified. “Wherever the death penalty is administered by the state, the dignity of all our citizens is diminished.”

So if those who administer justice say the death penalty does not increase public safety and spiritual leaders believe it reduces the dignity of our citizens, then the only reason to support the death penalty would be because it brings some sense of comfort and closure to murder victims’ loved ones.

This argument is refuted scientifically by Dr. Leonard Korn, MD, a psychiatrist, in his recent letter to this paper and by the bill’s chief sponsor, Rep. Renny Cushing of Hampton, whose father was murdered in 1988 and whose brother-in-law was killed more recently in a separate unrelated crime.

“Contrary to the popular belief that the death penalty brings ‘closure’ to the families of victims, the use of the death penalty is often a more negative and painful experience for the family than a sentence of life without parole would be,” Dr. Korn wrote. “This is because death penalty cases can take decades or longer, and this prolongs the suffering and trauma for families who have lost loved ones to murder. Like a wound left open, it prevents whatever healing might take place after such a horrendous crime and loss.”

Rep. Cushing is persuasive when he states, “If we let those who kill turn us into killers, evil triumphs, violence triumphs.”

While we respect those who believe society is best served by putting certain convicted killers to death, we see that the overwhelming evidence supports repeal of the death penalty in New Hampshire. We encourage state Sens. Martha Fuller-Clark, Nancy Stiles and Russell Prescott, who represent the people in Seacoast cities and towns, to vote in favor of repeal.

 

Dover vigil supports abolishing death penalty Senate committee to hear HB 1170 April 3,
Fosters Daily Democrat, Sunday, March 30, 2014

Excerpt:
Members of the Dover faith community gathered at noon Saturday for a vigil to support a bill abolishing the death penalty in New Hampshire. The event began at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church and continued around a circuit of five stops through downtown Dover.

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Death penalty solves nothing, former N.H. Supreme Court justices write
By: Joseph Nadeau and John Broderick , Seacoast Online
Tuesday, March 25, 2014

New Hampshire has not executed anyone for three quarters of a century. Yet, it registered the second lowest murder rate in the nation every year of this century. Our state is regularly ranked one of the safest in which to live; and by reported crime statistics was the safest in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The time has come to embrace New Hampshire history and abolish the death penalty.

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There is no relationship between the death penalty and protection from murderers. Louisiana, a state with 28 executions since 1975, has had the highest murder rate in the nation every year since 1996. Mississippi, with 21 executions, was either second or third during that period. The other states with the lowest murder rates — Hawaii, Vermont, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Iowa — have no death penalty.

We do not doubt that those who support capital punishment do so from a sense of outrage at the horror of murder, and in the belief that executions serve a necessary purpose. We share that outrage, but for us the question must be asked: What purpose is served by executions?

Can the purpose be deterrence, when analysis and experience show that those who kill do not consider the sentence before they act, or do not expect to be caught, or both?

Can the purpose of executions be protection from the killers, when life imprisonment without the possibility of parole provides that protection, and published reports show that no state has ever paroled a person from such a sentence?

Can the purpose be to provide consistency in prosecutions, when the decision whether to seek the death penalty can be so random and so easily influenced by public opinion, political pressure and media attention?

Can the purpose be to achieve fairness, when experience shows that the decision whether to impose death is completely dependent upon the composition of a particular jury and the emotions of individual jurors in each case, and when death is imposed more upon minorities and the poor than on the established and well-to-do?

Can the purpose be to save tax dollars, when it has been well established that to seek and carry out the death penalty costs more than to prosecute and imprison a person for life? And even if an execution might cost less, wouldn’t killing merely to save money be unthinkable?

If, as some argue, the purpose is to honor law enforcement, doesn’t honor come from personal pride and earned respect, rather than from state-sanctioned killings?

If the purpose is to provide justice for victims, isn’t justice served by sensitivity to their plight, by swift apprehension and vigorous prosecution of murderers, by adherence to the constitution, and by fair and impartial trials?

Ultimately, isn’t the death penalty more about retribution than anything else? And even if retribution satisfies personal passion for some citizens, should it justify government executions in the name of all citizens?

Most of us will never feel the loss experienced by victims of murder. We may never know whether the desire for revenge could lead us to support death for a person who murdered someone we love.

Nevertheless, neither of these failings makes abolition of the death penalty any less compelling. We believe there is simply no valid reason for a civilized society to condone the systematic killing of human beings.

Arguments that there are laws to reduce the risk of wrongful execution, or laws to kill in a “humane” way, are not persuasive. In fact, knowing that innocent people have been executed, and that DNA evidence has freed others before execution, is enough for us to abhor the death penalty, irrespective of any arguments to support it. With the most respected judicial system in the world, how can we willingly embrace a sentence that cannot be reversed after it is imposed?

Clearly, murderers must be punished and removed from society. Life in prison without parole does both. It is unnerving merely to contemplate the isolation of life in an 8-by-10-foot cell, the constant mind-numbing sound of steel on steel, the monotony of a regimented daily routine, the demoralizing absence of ordinary freedoms, the gradual dwindling of visitors until there are none, and the eventual loss of hope until a life without the simple joys we all take for granted ends with a lonely death in prison. That is punishment.

Eliminating state executions says nothing about criminals who kill, but it says a great deal about a society that does not. For us, the principle for any killing is the same: The intentional taking of human life, except in self-defense or in the defense of others, is not acceptable no matter who does the killing. Abolishing the death penalty will not compromise public safety, but it may replace rage with reason, retribution with self-respect, and enrich the character of our people as a whole.

Joseph Nadeau is an international consultant and former N.H. Supreme Court Justice. John Broderick is UNH Law School Dean and former N.H. Supreme Court Chief Justice.

 

Crowd turns out to support repeal of death penalty in N.H.
The Seacoast Online, Monday, March 24, 2014

Excerpt:
Whether the state’s death penalty should be repealed has been an ongoing debate for years.

While many stand firm in their belief of “an eye for an eye,” others believe life in prison should be the most extreme punishment for those who commit the crime of capital murder.

Read full article…

Nashua Telegraph: Senate should vote to repeal capital punishment, too
Editorial, Friday, March 14, 2014

According to the Innocence Project, there have been 312 post-conviction DNA exonerations in United States history. Eighteen of those people had been sentenced to death. There is no way to know how many innocent people have been executed over the years.

Repealing the death penalty in New Hampshire is not about going easy on convicted killers, it’s about eliminating the possibility, however unlikely, that an innocent person could be put to death. There are other good reasons to eliminate capital punishment – including the fact that there isn’t any credible evidence that it deters killers.

So what the death penalty boils down to is little more than emotional restitution.

“If we let people who kill turn us into killers, then evil triumphs,” said Rep. Rennie Cushing, D-Hampton, leading the Wednesday debate that ended with the New Hampshire House voting – overwhelmingly – to repeal the death penalty. It marks the fourth time in a decade that the House has favored repeal.

Now it’s on to the Senate, where the fate of the bill will be determined. Gov. Maggie Hassan has already indicated she would sign it if senators approve it.

In each previous case, the Senate has failed to follow the House’s lead. For the sake of the innocent, we urge a different outcome this time around.  Link to original article

‘West Memphis Three’ member joins anti-death penalty rally at UNH
The Union Leader, February 26, 2014

Excerpt:
As the New Hampshire House prepares to vote on the latest bill to be introduced seeking the repeal of the state’s death penalty law, a small group of students at the University of New Hampshire organized a large event on Tuesday night to show their support of it.

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Rep. Robert L. Théberge (Coös, Dist. 3 – Berlin, NH) – Repeal of the Death Penalty
The Berlin Daily Sun, February 3, 2014

Excerpt:
In a few short weeks, the House of Representatives will be voting on HB1170 an act repealing the death penalty. Since 1974, the modern era of the death penalty, New Hampshire has amended its statue eight times. During that same time period, not a single person has been executed, and the state recently, has spent more than four million dollars ($4M) on litigation, paying for both the cost of the defense and prosecution councils.

Read full article…

Editorial: Of the Death Penalty and Human Dignity
Valley News, January 22, 2014

Let’s be clear: The appalling circumstances attendant upon the execution of Dennis McGuire in Ohio last week did not render capital punishment barbaric; they merely personified its inherent barbarity. We hope the New Hampshire Legislature will take note and finally repeal the state’s death penalty in the firm conviction that it is morally repugnant for the state to take human life.

McGuire was put to death with a new and untested combination of drugs that took 25 minutes to perform its lethal work while he was gasping, snorting, choking and moving as though struggling — a result his defense attorneys had anticipated in an unsuccessful court filing that sought to block the execution. In opposing their motion, Ohio Assistant Attorney General Thomas Madden contended that while the Constitution bans cruel and unusual punishment, “you’re not entitled to a pain-free execution.”

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The family of Joy Stewart, the woman whom McGuire raped and murdered in 1989, issued a statement following the execution saying that whatever suffering McGuire endured, it paled in comparison to that which the victim went through. “He is being treated far more humanely than he treated her,” the family said.

Anyone who finds themselves in the position of the Stewart family certainly could feel justified in holding that view, and it is entirely understandable in view of the emotional pain and loss they have suffered. But the problem with it, along with Madden’s argument, is that it asserts a kind of equivalence between an official act of the state and that of a brutal murderer. Inflicting less suffering than McGuire did does not render the act of putting him to death morally acceptable. This is perhaps reflected in what necessitated the use of the experimental combination of drugs in the first place — the European manufacturers of the drugs previously used have blocked their further sale for use in executions.

While all this was transpiring in Ohio, the New Hampshire House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee was holding a three-hour hearing on a bill that, for the third time in the past 13 years, attempts to repeal the state’s death penalty law. New Hampshire is one of 32 states that allow capital punishment, although it has not executed anyone since 1939.

According to the Concord Monitor, members heard testimony from religious leaders, police officers, lawyers and family members of murder victims urging them to repeal the law. They discussed issues such as the high costs associated with imposing the death penalty, unfairness in deciding which defendants are sentenced to death, and the very real possibility that an innocent person will be wrongfully executed.

These are all powerful arguments in favor of abolition, but we found most compelling statements that focused on the moral compromise inherent in the death penalty.

Former Attorney General Phil McLaughlin told the committee that he had changed his mind on the issue after his son returned from serving in Iraq and told him, “Our government shouldn’t kill its own people.”

And the Rev. A. Robert Hirshfield, Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, said that, “Repealing the death penalty is a way for the state to counteract and push back against the culture of violence. Whenever the death penalty is administered by the state, the dignity of all our citizens is diminished.”

In fact, the death penalty makes killers of us all. And that’s hard to live with.

Garry Rayno’s Statehouse Dome: Diverse group favors death penalty repeal
Union Leader, January 11, 2014

Excerpt:
Perhaps the biggest new issue to come before lawmakers this year will be death penalty repeal.

Rep. Robert Cushing, D-Hampton, has put together a group of co-sponsors for his repeal bill that includes Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, and House and Senate members.

Read full article…

Death penalty leaves no margin for error
Nashua Telegraph, January 9, 2014

Excerpt:
Among the changes in state law being considered by New Hampshire legislators in the session that started this week is one that, if passed, would repeal the death penalty.

Read full article…

Stay of Execution: Catholic Conscience and the Death Penalty: These Stone Walls,                    November 20, 2013

Excerpt:
If, like a number of Catholics I know, you find yourself on the fence about Catholic opposition to the death penalty, then please read this to the end. The death penalty in American justice is one of those hot-button, polarizing issues I usually try to avoid on These Stone Walls, but I just waded into its murky depths. So I ask you to step into that torrent with me for a few minutes to weigh another side of this story.

Read full article…

U.S. Counties Killing The Most People Are Good At Getting Death Penalty, Not So Good At Justice:  Huffington Post, November 19, 2013

Excerpt:
Just 2 percent of counties in America are responsible for more than half the nation’s executions, and those same counties have been responsible for a disproportionate share of high-profile prosecutorial misconduct and exonerations following wrongful convictions.

Read full article…

Analysis: Wrongful convictions sharpen focus on death penalty: USA Today, November 13, 2013

Excerpt:
For people wrongly convicted and sent to prison for crimes they did not commit, the opportunities for justice are few and far between.

“There have been no consequences for the prosecutor in my case,” said Anthony Graves, a Texas man who was exonerated three years ago after serving more than a decade on death row for a murder he did not commit.

Read full article…

NH clergy call for abolishing state’s death penalty: Union Leader, November 12, 2013

Excerpt:
New Hampshire church leaders have issued a call to abolish the death penalty and for clergy to discuss the issue with their congregations.

Read full article…

Options running out for the US death penalty: New Scientist, November 12, 2013

Excerpt:
If it goes ahead as scheduled in Ohio, the execution of Ronald Phillips on Thursday will be a grim milestone. He is due to be put to death by a cocktail of two drugs that has never before been used for capital punishment – midazolam, a sedative, and the painkiller hydromorphone.

Read full article…

Jimmy Carter: Ban the Death Penalty: Common Dreams, November 11, 2013

Excerpt:
It’s time for the Supreme Court to look at the totality of the death penalty once again,” said Carter. “My preference would be for the court to rule that it is cruel and unusual punishment, which would make it prohibitive under the U.S. constitution.

Read full article…

 Editorial: The death penalty isn’t the answer: Monadnock Ledger-Transcript, November 11, 2013

Excerpt:
But from Dodge’s perspective, as well as ours, the answers are not so simple. This issue goes far deeper than the battles between justice and compassion. It’s also about a criminal justice system that nationally has far too often proven to be wrong in capital cases. Just look at recent history in Illinois, which in 2011 officially abolished its death penalty after a decade-long moratorium that saw clemency granted to all its death row inmates because of concerns about its process.

And there’s the all-too-often unspoken question of a government’s proper role. We find it hypocritical that the states with the deepest ties to the death penalty are also the one who most loudly call for smaller government. If government is not to be trusted to administer basic programs, how can it be given the power to execute?

Read full article…

Editorial: It’s time to repeal the death penalty: Concord Monitor, November 10, 2013

Excerpt:
Brooks was rich and white; Addison was poor and black. Brooks plotted his victim’s murder deliberately; Addison shot Briggs as he fled. Addison’s victim had the full force of New Hampshire law enforcement watching every twist and turn of the case; Brooks’s victim was little known and quickly forgotten. Different lawyers, different juries, different cases. But it’s difficult not to step back and wonder about the fairness of it all. In a state where the capital murder statute is rarely used, it’s hard to imagine two more starkly different outcomes.

Read full article…

Top NH court upholds death sentence for cop killer: Lynne Tuohy, U.S. News, November 6, 2013

Excerpt:
The court rejected Addison’s numerous claims that his death sentence violates the state constitution. Addison had challenged whether he could be sentenced to death when the jury found that he acted recklessly but without intent to kill.

“Our capital sentencing scheme reflects the legislature’s judgment that the most egregious murderers who warrant the most severe sentence under our law are not restricted to those who harbor a specific intent to kill,” the court wrote.

University of New Hampshire School of Law Professor Albert “Buzz” Scherr said the justices were “surprisingly dismissive” of defense arguments that Addison’s death sentence was tainted by passion and prejudice.

Read full article…

Additional News Coverage about NH Supreme Court Ruling on Addison Case
New Hampshire High Court Finds Death Penalty Constitutional Wall Street Journal (blog)
New Hampshire High Court Finds Death Penalty Constitutional. Criminal Antitrust Enforcer Heads to Gibson Dunn; nextClass-Action Curbs, 

 

New Hampshire court upholds death sentence for cop killer NBCNews.com

BOSTON — New Hampshire’s top court on Wednesday upheld a capital State lawmakers’ efforts to repeal or weaken the death penalty repeatedly have been 

Court clears way for cop killer to become first New Hampshire Washington Times

CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire’s top court upheld the sentence of the state’s Because it was the first death penalty appeal in decades, the justices had to 
See all stories on this topic »

Supreme Court to release ruling in State vs. Addison The Keene Sentinel

who faces the death penalty for killing a Manchester police officer in 2006. Addison could be the first killer executed in New Hampshire since 1939.

News of the Day From Across the Nation, Nov. 7 San Francisco Chronicle

It was the public’s first glimpse at the new species, which researchers named Lythronax argestes. 2 Death penalty upheld: New Hampshire’s top court upheld the 

N.H. Supreme Court Upholds Addison Conviction, Will Review New Hampshire Public Radio

The state Supreme Court has upheld the capital murder conviction of Michael Addison, but says it will need further review before ruling on his death sentence.

2014 may – or may not – be year death penalty is repealed in NH: Kevin Landrigan, Nashua Telegraph, Sunday, October 27

Excerpt:
“Governor Hassan supports life in prison without parole for heinous crimes,” communications director Marc Goldberg said in what has become the governor’s stock response.  “As a matter of faith and conscience, she does not support the death penalty.”…. The other reason for supporters to conclude they have momentum is that the crusade to repeal capital punishment has been steadily scoring victories in state capitals. Since the Supreme Court re-established capital punishment in 1973, 18 states have repealed their laws. As retired Superior Court Chief Justice Walter Murphy said Thursday, six of those states have done so in the last five years, most recently Maryland last spring. “The whole issue requires light; people have to look at the facts,” Murphy said.

Read full article…

The Libertarian Case Against the Death Penalty: Ben Jones, Venitism, October 25, 2013

Excerpt:
For many years, the death penalty has divided libertarians. Recently, however, a number of high-profile figures in the liberty movement have expressed concerns about the death penalty and called for its repeal. What has inspired this shift? Well-publicized problems with the death penalty process—wrongful convictions, arbitrary application, and high costs—have convinced many libertarians that capital punishment is just one more failed government program that should be scrapped.

Read full article…

Editorial: Portsmouth Herald supports repeal of N.H. death penalty: Portsmouth Herald, October 25, 2013

Excerpt:
We agree with Judge Walter Murphy, who served in 2009 as chairman of the Commission to Study the Death Penalty in New Hampshire.

“There is no assurance that the death penalty does what its advocates claim is its purpose; nor is there any reason to believe it is necessary for public safety,” Murphy wrote in the commission’s final report. “The alternative, that is, life without the possibility of parole, offers the same protection without the attendant risks of mistakes and without the vast expense both monetary and otherwise.”

Because the risk of error is too high, the cost is exorbitant, it doesn’t help victims heal and has not been proven a deterrent to crime, we support repeal of the death penalty in New Hampshire.

Read full article…

Editorial: We support the repeal of death penalty in N.H.: Exeter News-Letter, October 25, 2013

Excerpt:
Cushing was joined in Concord by the Catholic and Episcopal bishops, law enforcement representatives and crime victim advocates. We join them in voicing our support of death penalty repeal.

In our view, the death penalty is simply not justice. While we understand and respect the arguments in favor of putting to death those convicted of the worst capital crimes, we’re convinced by the evidence that the damage capital punishment inflicts on society far outweighs the good.

Read full article…

The death penalty in the news: Elizabeth Lefebvre, U.S. Catholic, October 25, 2013

Death Penalty – a Barbaric Society: Amy Whatley, Las Vegas Guardian Express, October 24, 2013

Exonerated man crusades against death penalty: Damien Fisher, Eagle Times, October 21, 2013

Excerpt:
Bloodsworth says the Addison case is a good example of the death penalty as a failed public policy, showing that it is not applied fairly, and that it is applied in a racially biased manner.

Since Addison, who is black and poor, reportedly killed Briggs, there have been several other murder cases in New Hampshire that could have qualified for the death penalty. Bloodsworth wonders why Jay Brooks, for example, the New Hampshire millionaire convicted of hiring two other men to commit the murder of Derry man Jack Reid, is not also facing the death penalty instead of life in prison.

“It is no mistake that a black man is on death row, and wealthy white man, Mr. Books, is not,” Bloodsworth said.

Read full article…

Editorial: Bloodsworth case should give death penalty supporters pause: Concord Monitor, October 21, 2013

Excerpt:
Bloodsworth, who met with Monitor editors last week, was in New Hampshire to aid a group pushing to repeal the state’s death penalty. For legislators on the fence – and even those secure in their support for the statute – his story is worth paying attention to. His simple, powerful message will no doubt give pause to even the most resolute supporters of capital punishment: If this could happen to me, it could happen to you.

Read full article…

Cushing’s bill to abolish death penalty in N.H. to be unveiled: Seacoast Online, October 21, 2013

Democrat Unveiling Bill to Repeal NH Death Penalty: Kyle Stucker, Bedford Patch, October 21, 2013

“It could have happened to anyone, anywhere”: Annmarie Timmins, Concord Monitor, October 20, 2013

Excerpt:
It’s no surprise the experience changed Bloodsworth’s thinking on the death penalty. He was in New Hampshire last week sharing his story with hopes it will have a similar affect on others, especially lawmakers who will debate repealing the death penalty next year.

“When I was a Marine, I felt people got what they deserved,” Bloodsworth, 53, said during an interview with the Monitor. “But . . . if this could happen to an honorably discharged Marine with no criminal record, it could have happened to anyone, anywhere.”

According to the Innocence Project, which works to exonerate prisoners with DNA evidence, 311 people in the United States have been cleared by DNA, 18 of them after serving time on death row. Bloodsworth, of Pennsylvania, is now advocacy director for the group.

Read full article…

Garry Rayno’s State House Dome (see Death Penalty Repeal): Garry Rayno, Union Leader, October 20, 2013

Kirk Bloodsworth: The First Man To Be Exonerated By DNA Evidence: Virginia Prescott, Word of Mouth, NHPR, October 16, 2013

1st American released from death row after being exonerated by DNA makes case to abolish death penalty in NH: Kevin Landrigan, Nashua Telegraph, October 15, 2013

Freed from death row, he aims to abolish the death penalty in NH: Nick B. Reid, Hampton Union, October 15, 2013

Excerpt:
An innocent man who spent nearly nine years imprisoned in Maryland, some of that time facing execution, brought his campaign to end the death penalty to New Hampshire this week, including a stop at Winnacunnet High School.

He said poor eyewitness accounts and the errors of fallible humans fast-tracked him over eight months in the mid-1980s from wrongfully accused to death row in connection with the brutal murder and sexual assault of 9-year-old Dawn Hamilton. Soon his life became dodging predatory inmates, getting occasionally beaten by a sockful of D batteries and pacing back and forth in his cramped jail cell trying to solve Hamilton’s murder.

Read full article…

Video – Kirk Bloodsworth, the first American released from death row and exonerated by DNA evidence: Nashua Telegraph, October 14, 2013

First man exonerated from death row by DNA testing speaks at Portsmouth church: Jeff McMenemy, Seacoast Online, October 13, 2013

Excerpt:
A jury convicted Bloodsworth in 1985 of the brutal murder and rape of a 9-year-old girl in Baltimore, Md., and he spent almost nine years in state prison there — including two years on death row — before he was set free. 
Ultimately, he was cleared when his lawyer — on his third try — found the evidence from the case prosecutors used to convict him “in the judge’s closet in a paper bag.” Once the evidence was tested for his DNA, he was released and the DNA lead police to the real killer.

The 53-year-old said his faith helped him endure the years in state prison, and it also kept him fighting for his release. “If God wants me to die for someone else’s sins, then that’s the way it’s got to be,” Bloodsworth said. “But I didn’t think he wanted me to.”

Read full article…

Man vindicated by DNA brings story to Keene State: Steve Gilbert, Keene Sentinel, October 13, 2013

Excerpt:
At Keene State, Bloodsworth, a converted Roman Catholic, touched on the morality of the death chamber, saying, “You cannot kill people and then say killing is wrong. That’s an oxymoron.”

But the thrust of his talk centered on the tragedy of executing an innocent person, emphasizing that 144 people, and counting, on death row have been wrongly convicted and exonerated. He listed a litany of ways his case was railroaded through the system because the outraged public wanted vengeance, how evidence was ignored, how his own lawyer saw him only three times in the eight months before his trial.

Read full article…

Fate worse than death: NH anti death-penalty group says prison is ultimate punishment: Kimberly Haas, Foster’s Daily Democrat, October 12, 2013

Excerpt:
The bill to abolish the death penalty in New Hampshire is already garnering broad bipartisan support in the Legislature, according to Cushing, who is a Democrat. There are 10 sponsors in the House of Representatives, representing a mix of Democrats and Republicans.

Issues such as the variations in use of the death penalty in different counties within states allowing it and the fact that minorities are sentenced to death in disproportional rates prove to Bloodsworth and other advocates that changes need to be made and the death penalty needs to be abolished.

Read full article…

Man exonerated from death row by DNA to speak in city : Seacoast Online, October 11, 2013

Man exonerated from death row to speak in Portsmouth: Seacoast Online, October 10, 2013

Death penalty abolition group to speak at UNH: Kimberly Haas, Foster’s Daily Democrat, October 9, 2013

Death Penalty Repeal Bill Likely to Come Up in New Hampshire This Year: Daniela Altimari, Hartford Courant, October 8, 2013

Garry Rayno’s State House Dome: Recurring issues 
on 2014 agenda: Garry Rayno, Union Leader, September 22, 2013

Years After Historic Ruling, Execution Still A ‘Random’ JusticeDave Davies interview of Evan Mandery, National Public Radio, September 19, 2013

NH death row inmate’s appeal targets Attorney General’s office: Kathryn Marchocki, Union Leader, July 17, 2013

Arias back in court for death penalty argument: Brian Skoloff (AP), Portland Press Herald, July 16, 2013

Boston Bomb Suspect Pleads Not Guilty in Court Appearance: Erik Larson & Janelle Lawrence, Bloomberg, July 10, 2013

Maryland governor signs death penalty repeal: Joe Sutton, CNN, May 2, 2013

America’s Retreat From the Death Penalty: Editorial, New York Times, January 1, 2013

Death Penalty Opponents Hopeful New Crop of Lawmakers will Support Abolishing Law: Joseph G. Cote, Nashua Telegraph, November 15, 2012

End the Death Penalty in New Hampshire: Lincoln Caplan, New York Times, November 14, 2012

Taylor: Isn’t it time to end state’s power to kill?: Selina Taylor, Nashua Telegraph, September 23, 2012

Most gubernatorial candidates say they would have vetoed Cate’s lawJake Berry, Nashua Telegraph, September 8, 2012

Michael Keenan freed, murder charge from 24 years ago dismissed by Cuyahoga County judgePeter Krouse, The Plain Dealer, September 6, 2012

New Hampshire Democrats Support Repeal of the Death Penalty: Renny Cushing, Executive Director of the Murder Victims’ Families for Human Rights, June 2, 2012

By an overwhelming 4-1 margin (274 in favor/ 65 opposed), delegates to the New Hampshire Democratic State Convention held in Manchester on Saturday voted in support of a resolution to repeal the death penalty and redirect funds to solve cold case homicides and support victims of crime.

The secret ballot vote followed speeches to the convention by the resolution’s sponsor, former Representative Renny Cushing in support of the measure, and the chair of the Resolutions Committee Dorothy Solomon, speaking on behalf of the 6-0 vote of that committee to urge delegates to reject the resolution.

While the two highest elected Democrats in the state, U.S. Jeanne Shaheen and Governor John Lynch, both support the death penalty, the Keynote Speaker at the convention was Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, a national leader amongst elected officials in the effort to abolish capital punishment. O’Malley told delegates who spoke to him about capital punishment that he was hopeful his home state would repeal the death penalty next year.

Shifts Detected in Support for Death Penalty: Kevin Johnson, USA Today, April 24, 2012

Death Penalty Cases Can Carry High Prices: Editorial, Keene Sentinel, April 11, 2012

Death Penalty Repeal Goes to Connecticut Governor: Peter ApplebomeNew York Times, April 11, 2012

Connecticut Senate Votes to Abolish the Death Penalty: The Associated Press, NY Daily News, April 5, 2012

Abolishing the Death Penalty Creates More Resources for Police: Daryl K. Roberts, CT Junkie News, December 20, 2011

Proposals Make All Murders Death Penalty-Eligible: Lynne Tuohy (AP), Boston Globe, November 26, 2011

Death Penalty Doesn’t ‘Protect’ Anyone: Arnie Alpert, NHCADP board member, New Hampshire Business Review, November 18, 2011

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