death penalty

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders says it's time the United States join nearly every industrialized nation in the West in saying no to capital punishment.

Sen. Sanders' remarks on the Senate floor Thursday came a day after rival Hillary Rodham Clinton voiced support for taking a "hard look" at the application of the death penalty, though she stopped short of advocating for abolishing the punishment.

Jim Cole | AP

New Hampshire’s only death row inmate Michael Addison is asking the United States Supreme Court to review the state court’s decision to uphold his conviction of capital murder.  

In a petition filed by his attorney, Addison argues that in allowing and refusing certain pieces of evidence during trial, the New Hampshire Supreme Court violated the eighth amendment of the US Constitution, which protects citizens from cruel and unusual punishment.

m01229 via flickr Creative Commons /

Last week, the New Hampshire supreme court unanimously upheld the death sentence for Michael Addison, who was convicted in the slaying of a Manchester police officer. On today’s show we’ll look at the bipartisan politics of the death penalty, and why fewer Americans – both Democrat and Republican – support it.

Plus, nearly 60,000 books have covered the Civil War that ended 150 years ago this month. We’ll speak to an illustrator about his new graphic novel that goes for a human-scale history from the ground up.

NHPR Staff

The New Hampshire Supreme Court for the first time will review whether the death sentence given to a man convicted of killing a police officer is fair compared to similar cases nationwide.

This marks the last phase of Michael Addison's direct appeal of his death sentence for the 2006 killing of Manchester police officer Michael Briggs.

The high court unanimously upheld Addison's convictions and death sentence in November 2013. That was the first time a death sentence had made it to the court in more than half a century.

This week All Things Considered is looking at the key bills at the statehouse this year – which passed, which didn’t, and why.

Proponents of repealing New Hampshire's death penalty law had new allies this year, including Governor Maggie Hassan, who promised to sign a repeal measure as long as it didn't affect the sentence of Michael Addison, the state's lone death row inmate.

The State House approved a repeal measure, but the Senate deadlocked 12-12 over the bill and ultimately laid it on the table.

The state Senate has again rejected a proposal to repeal New Hampshire’s death penalty.

The Senate is voting for the second time whether to repeal New Hampshire's death penalty, but the loss of a key supporter may doom the bill.

Sen. Bob Odell, who had voted for repeal, says he won't vote to take up the issue again.

The first bill stalled in the Senate on a 12-12 vote last month. The House then passed a second bill repealing capital punishment which the Senate is scheduled to vote on on Thursday.

cmh2315fl / Flickr/CC

N.H.'s Death Penalty Faces a Last Repeal Attempt for the Year

Although the matter seemed settled for the year after the State Senate tabled a repeal bill, longtime opponents of capital punishment in the House are making one last attempt. 

Amanda Loder / NHPR

New Hampshire's House has twice passed legislation to repeal the death penalty with the governor's blessing, but the second attempt has cost them a key supporter in the Senate.   Republican Sen. Bob Odell, who voted for repeal, said Friday that he won't vote to take up the issue again.  The first bill stalled in the Senate on a 12-12 vote last month, but supporters may have overplayed their hand by sending a second bill to the Senate for a vote Thursday. The Senate has the option of passing the amended bill, killing it or asking the House to compromise.

NHPR Staff

For the second time this year, House lawmakers have sent a proposal to repeal New Hampshire’s death penalty to the state Senate.

NHPR Staff


A month after the Senate voted to leave New Hampshire's death penalty on the books, the House plans to vote again on whether to repeal capital punishment.

On the Political Front, NHPR's Josh Rogers talks with Morning Edition host Rick Ganley about the fallout from last week's Senate vote on the death penalty repeal.

They also talk about Republican gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein's stance on political issues and what's coming up at the Statehouse this week.

NHPR Staff

Michael Briggs, the Manchester Police officer shot in the line of duty in 2006, and his killer, Michael Addison, who now sits on death row, both loomed large in the debate.

An indication of how large could be seen in the front row of the senate gallery.

That’s where Manchester police officials, including the chief and he lead investigator of the Briggs muder stood in full uniform the whole time. 15 feet down in the senate floor Michael Briggs name came up almost immediately – by people on both sides of the issue.

NHPR Staff


New Hampshire's Senate has voted to leave intact the state's centuries-old death penalty.

Daniel S. Hurd via Flickr CC

An intense campaign to repeal New Hampshire's death penalty comes down to the wire with a vote by the full Senate.

The House last month voted in favor of repeal 225-104. Gov. Maggie Hassan said she would sign the measure into law.

Those on both sides of the issue say Thursday's vote is too close to call in the Republican-controlled Senate.

This marks the closest the state has come to repealing its centuries-old death penalty since 2000 — when the bill passed both chambers but was vetoed by then Gov. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat.

NHPR Staff

Senate lawmakers are set to take up a bill this week that would repeal the state’s death penalty.

Daniel S Hurd via Flickr CC

The 3-2 margin came two days after an initial vote ended in a tie

The revote was requested by  Senator Donna Soucy (D-Manchester).

Soucy's district was where N.H.’s lone death row inmate, Michael Addison, committed the crime that persuaded a jury to sentence him to death -- the 2006 shooting of Manchester police officer Michael Briggs.

Soucy says given that, and the importance of the issue, she didn’t want to give the impression she might have been dodging it.

NHPR Staff

Former Supreme Court Chief Justice and current UNH Law School Dean, John Broderick told lawmakers that  NH is better than countries like Iran, Iraq, North Korea, where the death penalty is used.

Broderick said anyone who's spent time in a prison knows it's a hopeless and demeaning place, and asked lawmakers to consider what it would be like to by laying on a gurney,  a lethal injection headed your way, knowing you were innocent.

Broderick stressed mistakes can happen.

The state’s Corrections Commissioner says his department is preparing to carry out the state’s first execution in more than 70 years.

On the Political Front, NHPR's Josh Rogers speaks with Morning Edition host Rick Ganley about the state Senate considering a bill to repeal New Hampshire's death penalty.

The House of Representatives has voted 225-104 to repeal New Hampshire’s death penalty.

Ben McLeod / Flickr Creative Commons

House lawmakers are set to take up a bill this week that would repeal New Hampshire’s death penalty.

artbucher / Flickr Creative Commons

The legislature is again considering a repeal of the state’s capital punishment statute. While supporters say that their cause has gained momentum over recent years, others argue that the death penalty still plays an important role in state’s justice system.


orangesparrow via Flickr CC

Former Attorney Generals Phil McLaughlin and Greg Smith both told the House Criminal Justice Committee they’d prosecuted dozens of murders in their careers, and had they’ve come to believe the death penalty is wrong.

McLaughlin said the very rarity of capital punishment in N.H. is an argument for its basic unfairness.

"If punishment supposed to be neither cruel nor unusual, how do you take 1 in a 1000 over 75 years and persuade people that’s not unusual?"

Greg Smith went even further.

This week, the legislature returns and hears new bills. Up before the Senate judiciary committee are a proposal to establish domestic violence as a separate crime and one requiring certain persons with mental illness to be barred from owning guns and placed on a federal registry. On Thursday, the House holds its first hearing on a bill to repeal the death penalty.

New Hampshire U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte says she’s pleased with the state Supreme Court's ruling this week to uphold the conviction of Michael Addison

Addison was found guilty and sentenced to death for shooting and killing Manchester police officer Michael Briggs in 2006.

As attorney general, Kelly Ayotte was the lead prosecutor in the Addison case and she featured her role in her 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate.

Ayotte says she expects the court will uphold Addison’s death sentence.

The New Hampshire Supreme Court has issued its ruling in the case of the only man on death row in the state - Michael Addison, who was convicted in 2008 of capital murder for shooting and killing Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs.

To explain the ruling we turn to Buzz Scherr, law professor at the University of New Hampshire School of Law.  He speaks with All Things Considered host Brady Carlson.

In light of today's State Supreme Court ruling on the Addison case, here is an abbreviated timeline of the history of New Hampshire's death penalty.

b4kedscr0d / Flickr Creative Commons

In a highly-watched decision yesterday, the justices upheld Addison’s conviction of “capital murder” for killing a police officer. But the court said at a later date would it rule on Addison’s death sentence itself. We’ll look at this decision and its possible ramifications.


  • John Greabe – professor at UNH School of Law, specializing in constitutional law
  • Josh Rogers - NHPR's senior political reporter


The state Supreme Court is set to release its ruling Wednesday in the case of Michael Addison, who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2008 for killing Manchester Police Officer Michael Briggs.