Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) said on Sunday that he believes the current system of capital punishment should be reconsidered in the states, saying that, as it currently stands, it does not provide deterrence to crime.
The comments, which came during an interview with NBC’s "Meet the Press," are some of the more introspective Bush has given on the death penalty in his career. The converted Catholic has said he is torn over capital punishment. But he has generally stood by the practice, arguing that it falls within church doctrine and is important for bringing finality to the family members of victims.
He continued to stress the need for the latter during his interview on Sunday. But he also acknowledged that with executions happening irregularly because of the ability of the condemned to launch legal appeals, it was time to rethink the system.
“It was the law of the land when I was governor, and I faithfully dealt with it. To be honest with you, it is not a deterrent anymore because it's seldom used. It clogs up the courts, it costs a ton of money,” Bush said.
“I'm informed by my faith in many things, and this is one of them. So I have to admit that I'm conflicted about this,” he added. “But here's the deal, this happens in rare cases where the death penalty's given out and you meet family members that have lost a loved one and it's still in their heart. It's etched in their soul. And this is the way that they get closure? I get more comfortable with it, to be honest with you.”
Bush did not say which changes he'd pursue, though in the past he has called for limits on judicial appeals. He stressed that he is still in favor of the death penalty.
“But,” he added, “we should reform it. If it's to be used as a deterrent, it has to be reformed. It can't take 25 years. That does no one any good. Neither the victims nor the state is solving this problem with that kind of tangled judicial process.”