New Hampshire governor vetoes bill to repeal the death penalty

CONCORD, N.H. - The governor vetoed a bill Friday that would have repealed the death penalty, something no state has done since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976.

The veto by Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, which was expected, came a day after the Senate passed the measure 14-10.

The Senate vote fell short of the 16 votes needed to override a veto. The 400-member House approved the repeal in March 191-163, also well short of the two-thirds necessary for an override.

The text of Shaheen's veto message was not available. She said Thursday that while she respects the views of death-penalty foes, some crimes warranted execution.

New Hampshire's Legislature was just the second to vote to repeal the death penalty since the Supreme Court's 1976 decision. A repeal passed in 1979 by Nebraska lawmakers was vetoed.

The Legislature's vote was largely symbolic. No one is on death row in New Hampshire, and the state had the lowest murder rate in the nation in 1998.

In vetoing the bill, Shaheen brushed off appeals from former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalyn, and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu.

''As you know, there is no evidence that the death penalty deters heinous crimes, and it has been found that a number of those on death row, in Ohio and other states, have later been found to be innocent, primarily by DNA tests,'' the Carters wrote.

Tutu, a cleric who fought to end apartheid in South Africa, said in a statement that the death penalty was ''one of the pinnacle symbols of violence, vengeance and hate in our world today'' and urged Shaheen to ''choose life over death.''

New Hampshire's death penalty applies to a short list of crimes, including murder of a law enforcement officer and murder during rape or attempted rape.

On the Net:

Death Penalty Information Center:

Justice for All advocacy group:


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