CONCORD, N.H. – A former prison warden who carried out eight executions urged a New Hampshire commission Thursday to stay away from the practice, saying the memories of those he has put to death haunt him.

“It’s nothing but a premeditated, ceremonial killing, and we do it to appease politicians who are tough on crime,” Ron McAndrew said after testifying at the Legislative Office Building. “The state has no right to ask people to kill others on their behalf.”

McAndrew, a former warden in Florida and Texas and now living in Florida as a prison consultant, said he supported the death penalty until “these men came and started sitting at the edge of my bed at night.”

McAndrew helped perform three electrocutions in Florida and oversaw five lethal injections in Texas.

The last execution in New Hampshire took place in 1939. The state has one convict on death row, cop killer Michael Addison, whose appeals have just begun to wend their way through the courts. The state Supreme Court is still shaping how to evaluate the fairness of the state’s death penalty laws.

Since October, the New Hampshire Commission to Study the Death Penalty has heard testimony from both advocates and opponents of the death penalty and is scheduled to issue its report in November.

Laura Bonk, a Concord woman whose mother was murdered in Massachusetts in 1989, urged the panel to repeal the death penalty.

Bonk’s sister, 16 at the time, was also shot by the son of a sick friend her mother was visiting in Littleton, Mass.

“My mother was opposed to the death penalty,” Bonk said. “I ask you to recommend repeal. It would honor me and, most of all, my mother.”

Bonk said her aunt called three years ago to tell her the killer died in prison of natural causes. She told the panel his death brought no comfort or closure.

“It does not lessen the pain,” she said. “It does not help victims heal.”

The panel also heard from New York Law School professor Robert Blecker, who argued in favor of keeping the death penalty but applying it “only to the worst of the worst of the worst.”

Also, Blecker said, the commission should not view life without parole as a viable alternative to a death sentence, saying “lifers” typically earn the most privileges and get the best jobs behind bars.


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