Since 1734, 24 persons have been executed in The Granite State of New Hampshire. Hanging has historically been the execution method of choice, and still remains an option – albeit an unlikely one – aside lethal injection today. There is only one person on New Hampshire’s death row – Michael Addison, sentenced in 2008 for knowingly causing the death of a Manchester police officer.
New Hampshire’s death penalty (reinstated in 1991 after the 1972 Supreme Court Furman decision) was widely known for many years as the most restrictive death penalty law in the nation among the states which still practice it, applying only in cases of homicide or treason. Today it is still very restrictive though applies in a few more circumstances. Maryland is now widely seen as having a more restrictive death penalty law than New Hampshire among states using it.
A bill to abolish the death penalty was passed by the state’s House and Senate in 2000. The bill was vetoed by Governor Jeanne Shaheen.
In 2004, as part of a national campaign to end the death penalty for juvenile offenders, a bill banning the execution of those convicted of killing while under the age of 18 passed the House and Senate. It was vetoed Governor Craig Benson. The next year the same bill was reintroduced and passed again. It was signed by Governor John Lynch.
In 2009, an abolition bill passed the House and was then amended in the Senate to create a study commission on the death penalty. Governor Lynch signed that bill and the commission met for a year and issued a report in 2010. The majority (12-10) report recommended neither the abolition nor the expansion of the death penalty. The report did find that there is an added cost for the death penalty as compared to a life without parole sentence.
CMN State Spotlight – January 2014
“New Hampshire stands at the threshold of ending the death penalty in 2014. Catholics are active in the campaign, joining a diverse group of people and organizations who oppose the death penalty for many reasons.”
CMN State Spotlight – February 2010
“Unlike some of the other states we have highlighted in this section, New Hampshire is not close to repeal.”