CONCORD, NH –Today’s 16-8 Senate vote provided the two-thirds majority necessary to overturn Governor Chris Sununu’s veto of HB 455.
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Following last week’s 247-123 successful override vote in the NH House, today’s Senate action served to officially override the gubernatorial veto and end the practice of state-sanctioned executions in New Hampshire. New Hampshire now becomes the 21st state to end capital punishment, joining all other New England states, .
HB 455 replaces death sentences in future capital cases with the sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The bill does not change the sentence for Michael Addison, the sole individual currently on death row in New Hampshire.
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Speaking in favor of the override were Republican Senators Harold French and Bob Giuda, and Democrat Senator Melanie Levesque.
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Representative Renny Cushing, who has been spearheading death penalty repeal efforts in the NH House since 1997, reflected after today’s vote, “Today, I’m proud that the New Hampshire Legislature fulfilled the legacy of Governor William Badger, who in 1834 initiated the first movement to end capital punishment in our state. I’d like to acknowledge all of my Republican and Democratic colleagues who worked hard to see this day come to pass.” Representative Cushing, who lost a father and brother-in-law to murder, is the founder of Murder Victim Families for Human Rights.
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From the first recorded execution in 1739 to the last one in 1939, 22 individuals have been hanged by the state of New Hampshire. At least one, Ruth Blay, is now recognized as having been the victim of a wrongful execution in 1768 after being convicted of concealing the body of her stillborn illegitimate child and refusing to reveal the identity of the father.
“We hope that what we have accomplished here in New Hampshire will add momentum to efforts across our country to end capital punishment,” said Barbara Keshen, NHCADP Chair, adding, “We look forward to the United States joining the ever-growing community of nations who have abolished the death penalty and are working to create a less violent world.”
Keshen said that members of the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty would be lighting torches in the Coliseum in Rome, Italy sometime this summer in celebration of New Hampshire’s achievement.