Legislators came close to repealing New Hampshire’s death penalty statute a couple of years ago. I cheered for that. Now, two death penalty bills are on the table: one a moratorium, one an expansion.
Senate Bill 463 would suspend imposition of capital punishment “until such time that methods exist to ensure that the death penalty cannot be imposed on an innocent person.” The list of sponsors is impressively varied: Senators Avard, Daniels, Kelly and Lasky, and Reps. Seidel, Cushing and Ferreira. The Senate Judiciary Committee has made an “ought to pass” recommendation on a 3-1 vote, and the full Senate will vote on the bill on March 3.
And then there’s the House bill, or perhaps I should say Rep. Flanagan’s bill, since no one else’s name seems to be on it. It’s HB 1552, and it would extend the death penalty to acts of terrorism and civil rights offenses. The House Criminal Justice & Public Safety Committee has already held a hearing on the measure and will vote on it March 1.
I’d like to believe that a moratorium or suspension in imposing the death penalty would be a step in the right direction. I hope the Senate passes SB 463. I’m proud that my own district’s Senator Gary Daniels is the one who will formally present the committee’s recommendation on the Senate floor.