Law Enforcement Press Conference Addresses Gov. Sununu

[Audio & Video links below]

This morning, former Law Enforcement and Corrections officials in New Hampshire spoke out in favor of repealing the death penalty during a press conference in the Legislative Office Building in Concord.  Those speaking were: Representative Richard O’Leary, 33-year veteran of the Manchester Police Department; Bill McGonagle, former Assistant Commissioner for the NH Department of Corrections; and Paul Lutz, former Lieutenant with the Derry Police Department.  (Click on their names above to read their individual comments, or click here for all comments, including by those who were not present: Law-Corrections Presser Statements (PDF).)

The speakers directed their comments to Gov. Chris Sununu, who has vowed to veto the death penalty repeal bill. Sununu has cited his support for law enforcement as reason for his opposition, but has resisted meeting directly with any members of our group.

The primary arguments heard today were pithy and powerful. Boiled down, these were: 1) there is no evidence for its deterrent effect and so it does not protect law enforcement; 2) life in prison without parole is a harsh punishment and is all that is necessary; 3) the death penalty is costly – over $5.5 million spent on a single death row inmate to date – and that money could be better used both to support law enforcement and enhance public safety in a number of ways.

We had fairly good coverage by the press:

  • WMUR (1:45 video — also picked up by MSN News)
  • Union Leader – not very comprehensive, and wrongly attributed a live statement by John Breckinridge (he did write a statement, but was not on hand)
  • Associated Press (via NY Times, and picked up in various other places, such as Concord Monitor, US News and World Report, Seacoastonline, among others)
  • NHPR

Audio of the full press conference (about 26 minutes) can be heard here:

Watch the full video here:

(All photos courtesy of Arnie Alpert and Jeanne Hruska).


Urgent actions for continuing the campaign

We’ve barely stopped to take a breath since the buildup to the vote in the House, but it’s critical that we do not stop working towards repeal during the upcoming days and weeks.

In the House vote, we came within a single vote of reaching the two-thirds super-majority required for a veto override. Among the 52 representatives not present or not voting, were many of our supporters, enough to get us to the magic number. No doubt you also heard that Gov. Sununu vowed again to veto the bill. Therefore, our strategy is two-fold at this moment:

1) Pressure Gov. Sununu to respect the will of our duly-elected representatives in the House and Senate, and either sign or allow SB 593 to pass into law. The most effective way to do this will be to call his office at 603-271-2121 and leave a message to that effect. Please mention that you are a New Hampshire resident. Alternatively, you can email him using this online form.

A second tactic related to this strategy is to continue sending in letters to the editor of your local and state newspapers to emphasize the level of public support for repeal that continues to exist and encouraign the Governor to sign the bill. Even if you have already sent a letter, we are now in new territory with both the Senate and House having passed the bill, and with Gov. Sununu’s newly repeated public statement about his opposition. You may use our form here: Write a Letter to the Editor.

The third tactic is to direct your tweets on this issue to him, just include @GovChrisSununu in your tweeting.

A fourth tactic is EJUSA’s online petition. This can be signed by anyone around the country, so it  should not substitute for New Hampshire residents reaching out with calls, letters, and emails.

2) We want to shore up support in the House by having you send a thank you letter to your representatives if they voted in favor of SB 593. Here is the list of the  representatives who voted for the bill: SB593 Yea Votes. If you’re not sure who your representatives are, you can look them up on this page.  Again, you may use our online form to write to your legislator.

Thank you!