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NH Senate Votes To Keep Death Penalty Law

By Michael Rosenfield, WBZ-TV New Hampshire Bureau Chief
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CONCORD, NH (CBS)- The New Hampshire Senate floor was the site of passionate debate on the controversial issue of capital punishment Thursday.

“I am struggling and have struggled with this decision,” said Sen. Donna Soucy, a democrat from Manchester.

She was one of 12 senators who voted to repeal the death penalty.

The vote ended in a 12-12 tie. A tie vote means the death penalty statute stays intact.

“Because I believe that there are some crimes that are that heinous, I support the death penalty,” said Sen. Jeb Bradley, a republican from Wolfeboro.

Supporters and opponents of the death penalty were packed inside the senate chambers and outside the state house as senators made their positions clear.

“State-sponsored execution is not justice when we stoop to the level of the killer and it changes nothing,” said Sen. Bette Lasky, a democrat from Nashua.

The vote was predominantly along party lines.

Most republicans voted to keep the death penalty in place.

Opponents of the death penalty say they will continue their fight.

“The death penalty is a failed public policy,” said Arnie Alpert from the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. “It doesn’t work, it doesn’t protect public safety, it does not provide support for our police officers, it does not reduce violent crime.”

The New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police supports the death penalty.

“I think it’s really important to keep the death penalty on the books for especially egregious cases,” said Tara Laurent, police chief in Greenland.

Today’s actions were watched closely because the House of Representatives had already voted to repeal the death penalty, and Governor Maggie Hassan had indicated she would have signed it into law if it had made it through the Senate.

“I know that each Senator listened to all viewpoints and made a difficult decision,” said Governor Hassan in a statement following the vote.

New Hampshire remains the only state in New England where the death penalty is legal, although nobody has been executed in the Granite State since the 1930’s.

Currently there is one person on New Hampshire’s death row.

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