Bush: 'I struggle’ with the death penalty
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Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-Fla.) says his Catholic faith makes him question the morality of the death penalty.


“I struggle with it,” the 2016 GOP presidential contender told Christianity Today in an interview published Wednesday. “I’ve tried to explain it, but sometimes in life it’s not an either/or — it’s not so simple."

“We’re always confronted with challenges where one’s values come into conflict and this was perfect case of that,” he added.

Bush said he was "very uncomfortable signing death warrants" as Florida governor but went forward because it was state law.

"[B]ut I think it was because it was the law, number one,” he said, explaining his actions.

“Number two, I think because I met families that, in their minds, justice was being denied by the delays," he continued. "They could not get closure in their lives until the death penalty was complete and was executed. You know, these are egregious crimes."

“I felt committed to doing it because of the hurting families, because of these horrific crimes. We had a duty to do this,” added Bush.

Bush said that a major flaw with the death penalty is the lengthy appeals process.

“I support it, but here’s what we tried to do and the courts basically ignored it,” he said. “We tried to make the death penalty a deterrent by having it be complete within five years instead of 25 years."

“It doesn’t have a deterrent effect when there’s no certainty at all whether it will be complete,” he added. "We tried by special session to change that.

Bush said that it was a difficult issue but that he tried to bring justice to the families of victims.

“It was not an easy thing to do. I did not relish my participation in [Florida’s death penalty] but I do think we were denying justice for a whole lot of people that were suffering,” he said.

Bush converted to Catholicism after he married his wife, Columba Bush.

He said in the interview that he generally follows church doctrine as a politician.

“I think if you asked the bishops or the people that worked at the Catholic conference they would say I was a very supportive governor, but for this point.”