FILE - New Hampshire State Capitol

The New Hampshire State Capitol in Concord, New Hampshire.  

New Hampshire effectively banned the death penalty Thursday when the state Senate voted successfully to override Gov. Chris Sununu's veto of abolishment legislation.

The vote was 16-8, fulfilling the state's two-thirds supermajority requirement for an override without a single vote to spare.

New Hampshire now becomes the 21st state to abolish the death penalty.

Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, a Democrat, said he supported the governor's veto, citing police officers who have been killed in the line of duty. But he said he also understood it was a difficult issue and each lawmaker had to make their own decision.

"I haven't got a problem with anyone who has a different opinion," he said before voting against an override.

Several lawmakers cited their religious beliefs in guiding their votes to override and abolish the death penalty.

“I have consistently stood with law enforcement, families of crime victims, and advocates for justice in opposing a repeal of the death penalty because it is the right thing to do,” Sununu said in a statement after Thursday’s vote. “I am incredibly disappointed that the Senate chose to override my veto."

Last week, the House voted 247-123 also to override Sununu's veto.

A conservative group opposed to the death penalty applauded the override.

“Ending New Hampshire’s death penalty would not have been possible without significant Republican support," Hannah Cox, national manager of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty, said in a statement. "Increasing numbers of GOP state lawmakers believe capital punishment does not align with their conservative values of limited government, fiscal responsibility, and valuing life. The state of New Hampshire will be much better off because of it.”

New Hampshire last executed an inmate in 1939. One inmate, Michael Addison, remains on death row. Addison killed a Manchester police officer in 2006. The death penalty repeal does not apply retroactively, but opponents of the ban have said the state Supreme Court could commute Addison's sentence to life in prison now that the ban is in place.

​Dan McCaleb is the executive editor of The Center Square. He welcomes your comments. Contact Dan at dmccaleb@thecentersquare.com.

Executive Editor

Dan McCaleb is a veteran editor and has worked in journalism for more than 25 years. Most recently, McCaleb served as editorial director of Shaw Media and the top editor of the award-winning Northwest Herald in suburban Chicago.