« Urging Prez candidates to urge bold criminal justice changes looking beyond incarceration levels | Main | Pennsylvania Gov grants clemency to three more persons serving life sentences »

May 6, 2019

Will New Hampshire legislature this time override veto to finally repeal state's death penalty?

As noted in this post last month, a lopsided vote in favor of a bill to repeal the death penalty in the New Hampshire legislature suggested that the state would be able to abolish capital punishment despite the opposition of the state's Governor.  On Friday, as reported in this local article, the expected veto occurred, setting up the question that is the title of this post.  The local article is headlined "Sununu vetoes repeal of seldom-used death penalty as large delegation of police applaud," and here are excerpts:

Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed legislation to repeal the death penalty Friday surrounded by about 30 state, county and local police officers at the Michael Briggs Community Center, named for the officer whose killer is the state’s lone occupant of death row.

The governor acknowledged the bill he vetoed received bipartisan support in the House and Senate that was “pretty overwhelming.”...

Michael Addison, already a convicted felon when he shot officer Briggs, is the only person on death row in New Hampshire, which hasn’t executed anyone since 1939.  A recurring theme among repeal opponents has been the fear that Addison’s sentence will be converted to life without parole if the death penalty is repealed, even though repeal advocates argue that the law can’t be applied retroactively.

After the veto signing, Sununu said he believes in the death penalty as a matter of sound public policy and that he would have vetoed a repeal whether or not the state had an inmate on death row. “The reason is quite obvious,” he said, “when you talk to law enforcement and ask if this serves as a deterrent, they say ‘absolutely.’ People in this state understand that this is a tool and when you use it justly and with prudence, as New Hampshire does, it’s appropriate.”...

Sununu said he would do everything he could to “engage citizens in this process.”

“When you get to sustaining or overturning a veto, a lot of dynamics come into play,” he said. “So we’ll go back and talk to folks. We’ll keep fighting for it.  The vote was pretty overwhelming, to be honest.  Politics didn’t come into play.  I think it was folks not really understanding what this means to law enforcement and their families.”

Because I do not know the particulars of the New Hampshire legislature and local politics, I am not able to make a confident prediction on a veto override under the circumstances. Notably, the legislature failed to override a similar veto of a similar bill last year, but the 2018 election may have changed the numbers enough to change the outcome. But, as this news article suggests, it would appear the Governor is eager to take steps to preserve his veto and thus the state's death penalty.

Prior related post:

May 6, 2019 at 09:40 AM | Permalink


Post a comment

In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB