CONCORD — The former chief justice of New Hampshire’s Supreme Court urged senators yesterday to repeal the state’s death penalty, saying New Hampshire is better than countries like North Korea and Iraq that embrace capital punishment.
John Broderick, now dean of the University of New Hampshire School of Law, said he once reluctantly supported the death penalty, but now believes judges shouldn’t administer a sentence that doesn’t come with an eraser.
Broderick, who served as chief justice for six years, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that life in prison is an adequate sentence. He said he has been going to prison twice a week for the three years since he stepped down from the court.
“It is a sad, demeaning and hopeless place,” Broderick said. “I hope New Hampshire does not miss this opportunity to stand up and stand out in the 21st century.”
Kensington police Chief Michael Sielicki, head of the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, called the death penalty a “strategic tool ... to deal with the worst of the worst.”
Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan has said she supports repeal as long as it is does not affect the death sentence of Michael Addison, who was convicted of killing Manchester police Officer Michael Briggs in 2006.
A proposed bill applies to future cases only, but Sielicki says a federal judge might decide to commute Addison’s sentence.
“We cannot let that happen,” he said.
Four of the six states that repealed capital punishment in the past six years did so prospectively and left convicts on death row, Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington, told the committee.
In Illinois, Dieter said, the governor commuted all the death sentences to life in prison without possibility of parole. But prisoners remain under death sentences in three other states: 11 in Connecticut, five in Maryland and two in New Mexico.