Bush 'conflicted' on death penalty, wants reform

Story highlights

  • Jeb Bush said he was "conflicted" about the use of the death penalty and would like to see it reformed
  • He oversaw 21 executions during his time as Florida's governor

Washington (CNN)Jeb Bush said Sunday he was "conflicted" about the death penalty and would like to see it reformed, but stopped shy of saying he opposed it.

"I'm conflicted. I am," Bush said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "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 signed off on 21 executions during his eight years as governor of Florida and has long-supported the death penalty. But he sounded apprehensive about its success in deterring violent crimes Sunday.
    "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," Bush said. "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."
    Instead, Bush said, it's application needs to be reformed.
    "We should reform it," he said. "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."