May 30, 2019 / 4:58 PM / 7 months ago

New Hampshire becomes 21st U.S. state to repeal death penalty

(Reuters) - New Hampshire abolished the death penalty on Thursday, becoming the 21st U.S. state to do so, after the state’s Senate voted 16-8 to override the Republican governor’s veto of a bill passed by the Democratic-controlled legislature

FILE PHOTO: Demonstrators march through a courtyard during a rally protesting against the death penalty and in favor of immigration reform, organized by "Catholics Against the Death Penalty-Southern California" during the four-day 2017 Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, California, February 25, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Cullen/File Photo

Before the vote, New Hampshire was the last state in New England that allowed the execution of people convicted of grave crimes. The vote was largely symbolic, however, as New Hampshire has not executed anyone since 1939, according to the Boston Globe.

New Hampshire state Senator Martha Hennessey, a Democrat, described the death penalty in a statement as “ineffective in reducing violent crime and an inefficient use of our limited criminal justice dollars.”

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu had vetoed the repeal bill on May 3, saying ending the death penalty would be an “injustice” to law enforcement and victims of violent crime.

Prior to the repeal, the only crime in New Hampshire that carried a possible death penalty was capital murder, which includes the murdering of a judge or police officer and murder for hire, among other scenarios.

The repeal will not apply retroactively to the state’s only death row inmate, Michael Addison, who was convicted for killing a police officer in Manchester, the Concord Monitor reported.

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights has condemned capital punishment as undermining human dignity.

Most U.S. states still allow the death penalty, however, along with the federal government and the U.S. military, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Executions have generally declined nationwide from a peak of 98 in 1999 to 25 last year, according to the non-profit Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. Some states have struggled to get access to drugs used for lethal injections after some manufacturers refused to supply them for use in executions.

The Washington state Supreme Court struck down that state’s death penalty last October, saying it was arbitrary and unconstitutional.

Reporting by Jonathan Allen in New York; editing by Scott Malone, G Crosse and Bill Berkrot

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