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Steve Winter
State Representative
District 3

March 15, 2011
"Death Penalty"

Steven Winter represents the towns of Newbury and Sutton, Merrimack District 3, in the NH House of Representatives.

Representative Winter is a member of the House Executive Department & Administration  Committee, The Special Committee on Public Employee Pension Reform and the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR).

"Society may protect itself without putting a human to death as it would a wild animal. Since we believe each person has a soul and is capable of achieving salvation, life in prison is now an alternative to the death penalty." – Richard Viguerie, Tea Party supporter

Since the early days of my political involvement in the early 1990s, I have been against the death penalty. Our government was created to protect us from foreign aggression, protect us from the criminals amongst us, and to protect and guarantee our liberties. It was not created to exact revenge.

There are two bills in the NH House expanding the death penalty, HB 147 and HB 162. One has to do with the circumstances of the Mont Vernon home invasion and murder while the other extends the death penalty to those who assassinate high political figures. My long-time friend, Speaker of the House Bill O’Brien, is the prime sponsor of HB 147. He lives in Mont Vernon and I can certainly understand his motivation in seeing this bill through.

But for what purpose do we kill others? Is it primarily for revenge? "An eye for an eye" went out with the advent of the New Testament and Sharia Law is not the law of this land. If our government is created to protect our safety, I believe that life in prison without any possibility of parole is sufficient to meet that goal.


But isn’t the death penalty a deterrent? Not according to most inmate observers. "I have never heard a murderer say they thought about the death penalty as consequence of their actions prior to committing their crimes," said Gregory Ruff, a police lieutenant in Kansas.

As a fiscal conservative, I look also at costs. There are many studies which show that it is more expensive to put a criminal to death than to warehouse him for life. Lifetime incarceration certainly satisfies our need to be protected from any of that criminal’s anti-socialism for his lifetime. We don’t need to degrade ourselves or our culture by perpetrating ritual death.

Looking at the issue as a matter of punishment, I believe if I were 20 years old and convicted of the Mont Vernon murders, I would rather be put to death than to look forward to my remaining 50 or more years behind bars, never seeing freedom or having any hope of freedom. That would be a living hell.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens said, "I think this country would be much better off if we did not have capital punishment. We cannot ignore the fact that in recent years a disturbing number of inmates on death row have been exonerated." He’s right. If we mistakenly put to death just one innocent individual we have, as a society, committed premeditated murder.

Finally, again as a conservative, I have long advocated for a government that is smaller and less powerful over our lives. What more power can we bestow on government than the power to take the life of a citizen?



Steve Winter, Representative, Merrimack District 3
Newbury and Sutton, New Hampshire 

Telephone:  603-271- 3125 and 271-3319

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