New Hampshire Becomes 21st State to Abolish Death Penalty

The United States is the last Western country to still execute prisoners. But that is changing, albeit slowly.

On May 30, New Hampshire became the latest state to abolish capital punishment. It took a long time and came down to a single vote in both the state’s House and Senate.†

Earlier this year, 279 representatives and 17 senators voted in favor of the repeal bill, but eventually a few changed their minds. Just 247 representatives and 16 senators stuck with their beliefs and voted their conscience, thus overriding Governor Chris Sununu’s veto of the bill.†

With that vote, New Hampshire became the†21st state — plus the District of Columbia†–†to get rid of the death penalty, and the ninth to do so in the last 13 years.

States With and Without the Death Penalty

Washington Stateís Supreme Court struck down the death penalty last year. The other seven states, along with the date that they abolished or overturned the death penalty, are:†

  • New York (2007)
  • New Jersey (2007)
  • New Mexico (2009)
  • Illinois (2011)
  • Connecticut (2012)
  • Maryland (2013)
  • Delaware (2016)

So that leaves 29 states across the U.S. that still believe itís just fine for the government to execute its own people.

However, there is hope. There’s momentum toward repeal in both Wyoming and Colorado. Colorado is also one of four states where the governor has placed a moratorium on capital punishment. The other three are Oregon, Pennsylvania and California, where Governor Gavin Newsom announced in March that he would grant a reprieve to all prisoners on death row. This, however, doesnít necessarily mean his successor would do the same.

Other good news is that last January, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine postponed all executions due to concerns about the stateís lethal injection protocol. And even the 29 states where capital punishment is still legal may not actually use it. Eleven of those 29 have not used the death penalty over the past decade.

Just a few states are responsible for government-ordered executions since 2010: Texas takes the lead, having executed 114 people in that time.

Why the Death Penalty Is Wrong

Capital punishment is the most basic denial of human rights. We all have the right to life and freedom from cruel punishment. The death penalty is also a simplistic and ineffective response to the very serious issue of violent crime.

As†Amnesty International†explains:

  • The risk of executing an innocent person can never be eliminated. More than 150 people sent to death row in the U.S. have later been exonerated, and others have been executed despite serious doubt about their guilt.
  • There is no evidence that the death penalty deters crime or improves public safety.
  • The death penalty is applied disproportionately against people of color and poor people.

In addition, as Death Penalty Focus points out:

It costs far more to execute someone than to give him or her a life sentence. Take California, which has the largest population of incarcerated people waiting to die in the U.S. Here, taxpayers spend $150 million every year to keep 726 men and 21 women on death row.

Since the Supreme Court has moved over to the right thanks to Trumpís appointments, it seems unlikely that those of us fighting to abolish the death penalty will get any help there.

But the only way to solve the problems with the death penalty is to†eliminate it. Thank you, New Hampshire for showing the path forward.

Photo Credit: USDA/Flickr


danii p
danii p5 hours ago


danii p
danii p5 hours ago


danii p
danii p5 hours ago


Chad Anderson
Chad Andersonyesterday

Thank you. Great news.

Peter B
Peter B3 days ago

Good news.

Leo C
Leo Custer4 days ago

Thank you for sharing!

Leo C
Leo Custer5 days ago

Thanks for sharing!

Diane E
Diane E5 days ago

A civilised state.

Elaine W
Elaine W5 days ago

But the progress of civilization is so slow. Good job New Hampshire !!

Toni W
Toni W6 days ago