Pope declares death penalty 'wrong' in all cases, Texas unlikely - FOX34 Lubbock

Pope declares death penalty 'wrong' in all cases, Texas unlikely to abolish it

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LUBBOCK, Texas -

Pope Francis declared the death penalty is unacceptable in all cases. This is likely to challenge Catholic politicians, district attorneys, who argue at one point the church was not entirely opposed to capital punishment. 

Despite the Pope's declaration, Lubbock District Attorney Matt Powell does not expect any change happening within Texas.

"If you just have a religious reason or you just have a philosophical reason against the death penalty,you're not eligible to serve on the capital murder case," Powell said.

In contrast, Powell said if someone shows too much support for the death penalty, they are left off as well. Powell said it is a sentence that is not just given out easily.

"We've probably had I don't know, 40, 50 capital murder cases that are eligible for the death penalty, and we sought the death penalty on about 10 of those," Powell said. "I take it extremely serious on the ones I've chosen to do them on." 

The death penalty is legal in 31 stats. However, many countries have banned it. Catholic priest Martin Pina said it is because times have changed. 

"In the old days, we did not know how to protect people against very bad people, murders, killers," Pina said. "But in today's society, we have the ability to be able to protect individuals, keep individuals away from the society, and there's not need for this punishment." 

Powell argues, even if a murderer is locked up, that inmate could still be dangerous to others. 

"If you have a guy that has a propensity to commit violence, they're going to have a very big victim pool, not only other inmates but guards, teachers, doctors, nurses, dentists, staff workers, civilian workers, lots of people that work in those prisons," Powell said.

The pope believes that person still deserves reconciliation 

"The Pope believes that when he's put away, he's able to reflect more on what he did, and perhaps maybe he's able to ask for forgiveness, whatever evil and crime he did," Pina said.

Powell, a man of faith, said it is complicated, but believes for certain scenarios, it is necessary.

"They're extremely hard, emotionally, resource wise, everything involved with them," Powell said. "There's nothing good about it, but there are times, and there are particular individuals and there are particular crimes that I think it's an appropriate punishment." 

Powell add it is unlikely a Catholic judge would recuse themself from a case, since the punishment is ultimately in the hands of the jury.

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