Sununu allows the death penalty in New Hampshire

On June 21, Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed a bill that would have abolished the death penalty in the state of New Hampshire. Twice before in the Granite State has capital punishment come very close to its demise, with an abolishment bill making it to the governor’s office, only to be vetoed each time. New Hampshire remains the only state in New England with the death penalty, not having executed a criminal since 1939, and with only one person on death row, Michael Addison, the murderer of police officer Michael Briggs, as of now.

As the subject remains a touchy one nationally, it is no more of a pleasant topic to discuss for residents of Nashua and New Hampshire. Most of the opinions on whether such a harsh punishment should be carried out by the state government are based on what people feel is a crime heinous enough to be worth the penalty of execution.

“I feel that the death penalty is needed in certain situations when the convict isn’t able to be released” said Eva, a southern Nashua citizen.

Although everyone is entitled to an opinion, it is important to consider with great thought what those whom the penalty affects the most feel about the policy.

“The guy that murdered him, all he got was life: He should be dead. I believe in the death penalty … these officers that protect us should have a right to go out in the streets and be safe. That’s why crime is so high, no one gets punished,” said Jane Sylvestre of Franklin, whose 11-month-old son was beaten to death in 2015. She attended the signing of the bill with Sununu while holding up a picture of her son.

Some former public officials have stated their stance on the death penalty, such as Suellen E. Seabury, the paralegal studies coordinator at Nashua Community College. Seabury was a prosecutor for Hillsborough Country from 2003-2007, and a defense attorney for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the 1990s.

“I think that the death penalty is the most serious punishment that we can put on people, because we’re asking them to pay with their lives. The government needs to be very, very sure that the evidence is beyond a reasonable doubt and that the punishment fits the crime,” she said.

While the subject was brought to attention with Sununu’s legislative decision, a popular consensus is that this issue is not discussed enough in the state of New Hampshire. With no one being executed in almost 80 years, and with but one person on death row as of now, the degree of public awareness of the subject matter, locally, is not as great as the attention the issue yields nationally. Being a difficult, heated debate, both sides of opinion on the issue present strong reasons as to why capital punishment should or should not exist. As of now, until a similar bill is introduced and successful, the death penalty remains an existing punishment in New Hampshire.

Mahad Khan is a freelance writer.