Twenty years ago, most politicians supported the death penalty. Opposition to it has become increasingly bipartisan, reports Governing. Democrats always have been more wary. More conservatives have become convinced that capital punishment is another failed government program. The legal process for such cases is enormously expensive, even though few executions are ever carried out. “When you look at how much money we’re spending, no one looks at that and thinks the death penalty works fine,” says Hannah Cox of Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty. Last month, California Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a moratorium on executions. In October, the Washington state Supreme Court struck down the death penalty, finding it arbitrary and racially biased. In February, Wyoming’s GOP-controlled House passed an abolition bill, but it failed in the Senate.
Lately, the spotlight has shifted to New Hampshire, where last week the legislature sent the governor a bill to repeal the death penalty. Both chambers passed the bill by veto-proof margins, with bipartisan support. Once the legislature overrides GOP Gov. Chris Sununu’s expected veto, New Hampshire will be the 21st state to outlaw capital punishment. Colorado and Nevada could be next. For the first time since the death penalty was put back into practice during the 1970s, a majority of Americans now live in states that have abolished the practice or imposed a moratorium, says the Death Penalty Information Center, which researches the issue. Still, polls show that a majority of Americans continue to back capital punishment. President Trump has called for executing drug dealers. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court — where a majority of justices have repeatedly expressed frustration over delays in executions — ruled that Alabama can carry one out despite concerns that the state’s method of lethal injection could cause excruciating pain.