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New Hampshire Commission Recommends Retaining Death Penalty

And now, for something completely different.

We have seen a long line, in state after state, of death penalty study groups stacked with and controlled by the anti-DP crowd.  In California, for example, the commission's first act was to hire one of the most strident anti-DP partisans in the state to be its executive director.  The result was a predictably worthless report.

When I spoke to the National Conference of State Legislatures last summer, an opponent from New Hampshire told me their commission actually had a majority of supporters.  I was skeptical of that, as opponents often put forward faux supporters to create an illusion of balance.

Today we have news reports that the New Hampshire Commission has voted 12-10 to retain the death penalty but not expand it.  Maddie Hanna has this story in the Concord Monitor.

Unfortunately, as of this writing the report itself is not on the Commission's web site, and I am reluctant to say much without reading the actual report.

I agree with the proposition that most states have set their death penalty eligibility criteria too wide, relying on the discretion of prosecutors and juries to narrow the scope.  New Hampshire, however, has gone to the opposite extreme and legality excluded cases that cry out for the death penalty.  A careful, sober expansion should be considered by the Legislature next year.

Just as importantly, nearly all states need procedural reforms so that penalty phase claims are examined and finally resolved expeditiously, with repeated reviews reserved only for claims which would undermine confidence in the guilt verdict.

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