As state legislatures begin their sessions, death penalty repeal is on the agenda

On January 16th, two states, Kansas and New Hampshire, held hearings in their capitals to consider legislation to repeal the death penalty. Both bills have bipartisan support from lawmakers and are being considered after extensive advocacy from abolition supporters. With several repeal measures passing across the country over recent years – Maryland most recently ended the death penalty in 2013 – optimism is high at the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and among our abolitionist partners that yet another state this year will end the practice.

Meanwhile, legislation is popping up in several states, including Kansas, that ignores the evidence that has spurred this encouraging trend – that the risk of executing an innocent person is genuine and continuing the practice of capital punishment jeopardizes the integrity of our justice system. Indeed, the same day that Kansas was considering its bill to repeal the state’s death penalty, the same Senate committee reviewed legislation that would shorten the timelines for death row appellants to file motions, even among indigent defendants who are awaiting the appointment of counsel. The proposal also places an unreasonably high burden on a person seeking to prove his or her innocence on appeal, a burden which is likely to be unconstitutional.

The New Hampshire repeal hearing proceeded in a less contentious manner. Supporters of the repeal bill there overwhelmed the capacity of the hearing room and making it necessary for the committee to move the hearing to an auditorium in the state house. A week before the scheduled hearing, the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, NCADP, Equal Justice USA and numerous supporters put out the call to pack the House committee for the hearing. The sizeable turnout for the hearing sent an important message to lawmakers that death penalty repeal in New Hampshire is a top priority for their constituents. A committee vote on the New Hampshire bill is expected in the coming weeks.

In the weeks and months ahead more death penalty related legislation will percolate in the states– both supportive of limiting the death penalty and expanding its reach. The National Coalition will be on top of those developments, and by joining the 90 Million Strong Campaign you won’t miss the latest news.

Via: As state legislatures begin their sessions, death penalty repeal is on the agenda