New Hampshire Repeals Death Penalty Law, Overriding Governor's Veto

The state hasn't executed anyone since 1939 and currently has only one person on death row.

New Hampshire on Thursday became the 21st state to abolish the death penalty, following a state Senate vote to override a veto by Gov. Chris Sununu (R).

The veto override, which required a two-thirds majority from both chambers, narrowly passed the state senate with 16 in favor and 8 opposed. It passed similarly in the New Hampshire House last week, with 247 votes in favor and 123 opposed. Sununu, who supports capital punishment, vetoed a similar bill just last year.

New Hampshire hasn’t executed anyone since 1939, does not have an execution facility, and currently has only one prisoner on death row: Michael Addison, who was sentenced to death in 2007 for the murder of a police officer the year before. The repeal will not apply to his case retroactively.

Capital punishment remains legal in 29 states, but many have introduced bills in the past year that seek to limit its application or abolish it. Ten of these states have not executed anyone in more than a decade, with four governors issuing moratoriums on capital punishment in their respective states.

With this repeal, the death penalty is now outlawed across New England, although lawmakers in Massachusetts are considering a bill which would reinstate it for those convicted of the murder of a police officer. 

In their arguments last week, representatives from the New Hampshire House spoke out about the death penalty.

“The death penalty doesn’t work. It doesn’t work for victims. It doesn’t work for society,” state Rep. David Welch (R) said, according to The Associated Press. “It’s time to let that go.”