New Hampshire, which has not executed anyone in 80 years and has only one inmate on death row, has become the latest US state to abolish the death penalty when the state senate voted to override the governor's veto. The senate vote came a week after the 400-member house voted by the narrowest possible margin to override Republican governor Chris Sununu's veto of a bill to repeal capital punishment.
"Now it's up to us to stop this practice that is archaic, costly, discriminatory and final," said senator Melanie Levesque.
With New Hampshire's action, 29 states allow capital punishment, but in four of them governors have issued moratoriums on the death penalty, according to the Death Penalty Information Centre. Twenty-one states have abolished or overturned it.
New Hampshire's death penalty applies in only seven scenarios: the killing of an on-duty law enforcement officer or judge; murder for hire; murder during a rape; certain drug offences; or home invasion and murder by someone already serving a life sentence without parole.
The state has not executed anyone since 1939, and the repeal bill would not apply retroactively to Michael Addison, who killed Manchester officer Michael Briggs and is the state's only inmate on death row.
But death penalty supporters argued that courts will interpret it differently, giving Addison a chance at life in prison. The senate vote, 16-8, was exactly the two-thirds majority necessary to override the veto.
Twelve Democrats and four Republicans supported ending the death penalty, while six Republicans and two Democrats voted to keep it. New Hampshire politicians have been considering and rejecting repeal efforts for the last two decades.