Thursday, March 6, 2008

Building Support for New Hampshire Study Commission

MVFHR has been active in New Hampshire lately, meeting with lawmakers and working with our allies to build support for the establishment of a state death penalty study commission. We're pleased to report that a bill that would have expanded the state's death penalty was rejected in a 22-2 vote, and a bill that would create a death penalty study commission passed in the House yesterday and will move on to the Senate; we anticipate a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee within the next few weeks.

Renny Cushing writes:

"High profile former officials with firsthand experience with New Hampshire's death penalty -- including former Attorneys General Phillip McLaughlin, Peter Heed, and Greg Smith, former Superior Court Chief Justice Walter Murphy and former Supreme Court Justice William Batchelder — made the case in recent weeks to lawmakers that now is the time for a thoughtful look at New Hampshire's death penalty.

"Those judges and prosecutors supported an amendment to HB 1180 to create a broad-based commission to study the death penalty. The bipartisan measure garnered support from individuals and organizations who in the past have had very different views on capital punishment. Citizens and lawmakers who supported expanding NH's death penalty and those who supported restricting the death penalty joined with those who have worked to completely abolish the death penalty to support the death penalty study commission legislation.

"The commission will be composed of 15 members, including 2 state senators and 2 state representatives, a designee of the Attorney General, the NH Public Defender, the NH Bar Association, the County Attorneys, the NH Chiefs of Police, and the NH Association of Criminal Defense, and five members of the public representing families of murder victims, religious and ethical organizations, and associations and organizations with concerns and goals related to the death penalty."

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