Voting on death penalty repeal
To the editor:
It has been a very busy couple of weeks at the N.H. House. We have had many big issue bills. The repeal of the death penalty was among them.
I was eating lunch but thinking about the main bill for the afternoon. At the next table a man was wearing a large button that read: “Killing people who kill people to prove that killing people is wrong, is wrong.” While the logic was clear to me, my gut was telling me that some crimes are so horrific that the criminal deserves to die. I was equally persuaded by both moral sides of this issue. The testimony revealed that in New Hampshire we don’t apply the law on capital punishment equally. We also haven’t actually used it in decades. Any deterrent that it may hold is nearly negated by this fact. Current estimates of the cost to prosecute our one death row inmate ranges to up to 18 million dollars. This is more expense than it costs the ConVal school District to pay all of the teachers to teach all of the children in one year. It costs only a fraction of that to impose and fulfill life imprisonment. What are our priorities?
I rarely enter a vote without a clear mindset of what vote I will cast. Here it was, the vote was called. I had 30 seconds to respond. I stared at the buttons for most of it and then I pushed the button in favor of repeal. In the end, I decided that an ineffective law was not worth the price. Valuable, limited resources should be used where they do the most good.
Repeal passed the House by a good margin. The bill is now on to the Senate where each Senator must face the same decision.