A majority of lawmakers in New Hampshire voted on Thursday in support of abolishing the death penalty, but fell two votes shy of overriding Governor Chris Sununu’s veto of a repeal bill. Despite the outcome, observers and abolitionists say support for the cause is at a new high in the state, and continues to gain traction around the country.
After declining considerably in recent years, support for the death penalty in the US increased this year, fueled by an uptick in political independents backing the practice, according to a Pew Research Center survey.
Heather Beaudoin, leader of a conservative group fighting to end capital punishment, found new support for her cause at this month’s annual CPAC gathering of Republican activists. In a conversation with TCR, she reports a growing willingness among conservatives to embrace justice reform.
With executions and death sentences at near-historic low levels so far this year, the U.S. is witnessing a “long-term change in capital punishment,” according to a report released Thursday by the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC).
A Texas man condemned to death for a crime he didn’t commit was freed only after his attorney discovered a concealed phone record that proved his innocence. The attorney, Brian Stolarz, who wrote a book about the case, tells TCR that it’s an example of how capital punishment in the U.S. is hostage to a system that depends on whether you have enough money to pay for good legal help.
A pro-death penalty “punitive culture” in some federal jurisdictions ensures that poor defendants in capital punishment cases never get the quality of public defense they are entitled to, argues a study published in the Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. The authors say their findings help explain the stark racial disparities in the application of death sentences across the U.S.
Ronald Phillips, 43, was put to death Wednesday morning in the first execution in Ohio in more than three years. He was 19 when he raped and beat to death the 3-year-old daughter of his girlfriend in Akron.