First the New Hampshire state Senate passed legislation to repeal the death penalty in the state; then Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed that legislation; now the state Senate has overriden that veto. After what the Concord Monitor calls "unusually brisk debate" Thursday, the Senate voted 16-8 to pass the override measure, making the state the 21st in the US to repeal capital punishment. The state House had previously voted to override Sununu's veto. Both votes were narrow, with none to spare. The repeal takes effect immediately, and applies to convictions starting Thursday and going forward.
The state's capital murder statute (which applies only to murders under certain circumstances, including kidnappings and police killings) will remove the term "may be punished by death." Anyone convicted of capital murder going forward will face a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole. Sununu, a Republican, had argued on behalf of law enforcement and families of victims that the death penalty should not be repealed, the New Hampshire Union Leader reports. A Republican state senator who voted against the repeal echoed his sentiments: "Police officers are feeling under fire, not supported and alienated,” said Sharon Carson. "They need to know that we have their backs. That we support them. This is about justice, and the people’s will." (Read more death penalty stories.)