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Former N.H. Law Enforcement Make Case for Sununu To Sign Death Penalty Repeal

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Robert Garrova for NHPR
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Former police officer Paul Lutz speaks in favor of death penalty repeal at the Legislative Office Building in Concord.

A bill that would abolish the death penalty in New Hampshire has cleared both the House and Senate, but Governor Chris Sununu has promised to veto the measure. Sununu says he's standing with law enforcement in his promise to veto.

But several former police and correction officers made their case for the governor to sign it today during a rally organized by the New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

Paul Lutz is retired but spent 30 years in law enforcement and now his son is also a police officer. He contends there are better ways to help law enforcement than maintaining the death penalty.

“I think offering them assistance with the things they're afflicted with every single day,” Lutz said. “With the stresses of being assaulted, with the stresses long-term of alcoholism, unbelievable rate of divorce and suicide.”

A lifelong Republican, Lutz said he's also against the death penalty because of the costs associated with prosecuting those cases.

“We pursue relentlessly one case for millions upon millions of dollars,” Lutz said. “It's just not a very good use of resources.”

Bill McGonagle is former Assistant Commissioner for the NH Department of Corrections. He pointed to strains administering the death penalty puts on DOC staff.

“NHDOC employees we charge with carrying out the killing will undoubtedly suffer PTSD, some haunted by it for life,” McGonagle said.

“I stand with crime victims, members of the law enforcement community, and advocates for justice in opposing a repeal of the death penalty,” Governor Sununu said in a statement. “A top priority of my administration has been to strengthen laws for crime victims and their families. Repealing the death penalty sends us in exactly the wrong direction, and I will veto this bill once it reaches my desk.”

The House and Senate would each need a two thirds majority vote to override a veto by the governor.

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