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New Hampshire becomes 21st state to abolish the death penalty, overrides governor's veto

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The 16-8 vote marked a dramatic end to a yearslong campaign, making New Hampshire the 21st state in the country to abolish the death penalty.


State Senator Melanie Levesque, a Democrat, spoke forcefully in favor of repealing the death penalty, calling the practice “archaic, costly, discriminatory, and final.”


“This vote is about our state and what kind of state we are all going to be a part of,” said state Senator Harold French, a Republican who voted to repeal the death penalty.


New Hampshire has not executed anyone since 1939, but the battle over its death penalty law has raged for decades, with opponents coming within a hair of abolishing it multiple times. In 2000 and 2018, the legislature passed a bill to prohibit executions, but both times the governor — first a Democrat, Jeanne Shaheen, and then a Republican, Chris Sununu — vetoed it.



After the vote, Sununu pronounced himself “incredibly disappointed” with the override.


Renny Cushing, a lawmaker who became an unlikely advocate for abolishing the death penalty after his father was murdered in 1988, was among the leading voices pushing the bill. Cushing, a Democratic state representative, often spoke about how his father’s death made people assume he wanted the killer to be killed in turn. Instead, he devoted himself to abolishing the death penalty, bringing the issue to the legislature almost every year for the past two decades.


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