Monthly Archives: March 2017

NH House resoundingly says NO to death penalty expansion

House rejects HB 351, death penalty expansion bill, by 305-46 vote

Concord, NH – March 8, 2017

Today the NH House voted 305-46 to uphold the Criminal Justice Committee’s ITL (inexpedient to legislate) recommendation on HB 351, a bill to expand the death penalty by making “a person who knowingly causes the death of a child guilty of capital murder.”

Barbara Keshen, chair of the NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NHCADP), said, “We’re pleased that the NH House overwhelming agreed with the Criminal Justice Committee’s bipartisan recommendation to stop further expansion of NH’s death penalty statute.” Keshen was a state prosector and public defense attorney who handled over 100 murder cases. Representative Richard O’Leary, former Deputy Chief and 33-year veteran of Manchester Police Department, spoke in favor of the committee’s recommendation, citing no evidence for the deterrent value of the death penalty, and saying “it would not make our communities safer.” Representative Shannon Chandley, in her point-of-order questions, noted that the House had voted in favor of death penalty repeal in two recent sessions.

New Hampshire has only one person on death row and has not executed anyone since 1939.

Mike Farrell Inspires NH Abolitionists

The event was videotaped by Herb Moyer. Mike Farrell’s remarks begin at about the 30-minute mark.

Over 100 people showed up at Concord’s Audubon Center on Friday, March 3rd, 2017 to hear actor and death penalty activist Mike Farrell speak about his several decades of work in the areas of human rights and criminal justice reform. The event was organized by the NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and a number of state sponsors.*

Mr. Farrell spoke in no uncertain terms about his perspective on the death penalty, calling it “brutalizing” for the culture that engages in such practice:

There is a sickness in the land, and it is the product of an unconscious process of brutalization set in motion by the degrading of human life, the rationalization and institutionalization of the taking of human life. It is corrupting the moral fabric of this nation and its people.

Mr. Farrell talked stridently about the many abuses and shortcomings of the US criminal justice system, calling it “stinking, maggot-infested mess” that is covered by “the death penalty as ‘the lid on the garbage can.’”

Referring often to the framers of the US Constitution and their guarantee of the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” — and in light of the once-accepted institutions of slavery and white-landowning-men-only voting rights — Farrell quoted Benjamin Franklin in making the argument that rethinking the death penalty is in order:

For when you assemble a Number of Men to have the Advantage of their joint wisdom, you inevitably assemble with those Men all their Prejudices, their Passions, their Errors of Opinion, their local Interests, and their selfish Views.

Mr. Farrell finished his remarks with this:

Please consider four simple hypotheses: One – no matter how deeply it may have been buried, there is intrinsic value in every human being; Two – no one is only the worst thing she or he has ever done; Three – no matter the horror of the circumstance presented, there is always a reason for human behavior; and Four – state killing lowers the entire community to the level of its least member at his or her worst moment.

You can read Mike Farrell’s comments in their entirety here: Mike Farrell’s NH Talk 3.3.17 (PDF).

During the event, representatives of several New Hampshire newspapers were recipients the Coalition’s Governor Badger Award for their conspicuous editorializing in favor of death penalty repeal over the years. These were:

The award was named for NH Governor William Badger, who in 1834 gave a speech before the NH Legislature announcing his intention to end the death penalty.


Legislative Solutions
Robert Moser
Samdperil and Welsh, PLLC
Rep. Susan Almy
ACLU of New Hampshire
Green and Utter, P.A.
Gregory Smith, Esq.
Bill Glahn, Esq.
Mark Rouvalis, Esq.
Sherry and Gary Young


The NHCADP Board of Directors