"Death penalty solves nothing, former N.H. Supreme Court justices write," is the OpEd by Joseph Nadeau and John Broderick, at SeaCoast Online. Both are former justices on the New Hampshire Supreme Court; Broderick is a former chief justice.
New Hampshire has not executed anyone for three quarters of a century. Yet, it registered the second lowest murder rate in the nation every year of this century. Our state is regularly ranked one of the safest in which to live; and by reported crime statistics was the safest in 2008, 2009 and 2010. The time has come to embrace New Hampshire history and abolish the death penalty.
There is no relationship between the death penalty and protection from murderers. Louisiana, a state with 28 executions since 1975, has had the highest murder rate in the nation every year since 1996. Mississippi, with 21 executions, was either second or third during that period. The other states with the lowest murder rates — Hawaii, Vermont, Minnesota, Rhode Island and Iowa — have no death penalty.
We do not doubt that those who support capital punishment do so from a sense of outrage at the horror of murder, and in the belief that executions serve a necessary purpose. We share that outrage, but for us the question must be asked: What purpose is served by executions?
Eliminating state executions says nothing about criminals who kill, but it says a great deal about a society that does not. For us, the principle for any killing is the same: The intentional taking of human life, except in self-defense or in the defense of others, is not acceptable no matter who does the killing. Abolishing the death penalty will not compromise public safety, but it may replace rage with reason, retribution with self-respect, and enrich the character of our people as a whole.
Earlier coverage from New Hampshire begins at the link. The state's repeal legislation is expected to be heard by a Senate committee next week. It has already passed the House.