News Release

New Hampshire Senate Passes Bill Repealing Death Penalty; Nation’s Criminal Defense Bar Urges Governor to Sign

Washington, DC (April 11, 2019) - On Thursday, April 11, the New Hampshire Senate voted to repeal the state’s death penalty 17 to 6, a veto-proof majority. State lawmakers have previously considered legislation to repeal the death penalty every session for the last two decades but, even when passed, lacked the votes to override gubernatorial vetoes. This session, the legislation already passed in early March in the New Hampshire House by a veto-proof majority of 279-88.

“While passed by a veto-proof majority in both chambers, this remains an opportunity for Governor Sununu to come around to join the bipartisan movement to end the death penalty in New Hampshire,” said National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL) President Drew Findling. “As we have said before, time and again, the death penalty, as much of America’s criminal justice system, has been demonstrated to be racist, discriminatory, ineffective, expensive, and a stain on this nation. The death penalty is absolutely terrible criminal justice policy, and provably so. And it is just plain wrong, as recognized by the basic human rights standards of the vast majority of nations around the world.”

New Hampshire's repeal would be the latest in a growing nationwide trend toward abolition. It follows separate action in California, where Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed an executive order placing a moratorium on the death penalty. According to the Death Penalty Information Center, 20 states and the District of Columbia have repealed or overturned the death penalty. And according to Amnesty International, 142 countries around the world have abolished the death penalty in law or practice. Currently, one individual sits on death row in New Hampshire. However, the repeal bill, if signed, would not apply retroactively.

NACDL is an affiliate of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. And NACDL’s long-standing position calling for a moratorium on and abolition of the death penalty in the U.S. is recited in this board resolution.

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Ian Nawalinski, NACDL Communications and Public Affairs Assistant, (202) 465-7624 or

The National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers is the preeminent organization advancing the mission of the criminal defense bar to ensure justice and due process for persons accused of crime or wrongdoing. A professional bar association founded in 1958, NACDL's many thousands of direct members in 28 countries – and 90 state, provincial and local affiliate organizations totaling up to 40,000 attorneys – include private criminal defense lawyers, public defenders, military defense counsel, law professors and judges committed to preserving fairness and promoting a rational and humane criminal justice system.