Serving the Church in Texas

HB 316: Punishment appropriate for the actions

Michael Barba

The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops support HB 316. We thank Rep. Canales for filing this legislation.

Analysis of HB 316. There are four goals or ends of punishment which the bishops use to analyze whether a punishment is legitimate and should be applied:

1. the punishment results in the rehabilitation of the offender;

2. the punishment protects society from the offender;

3. the punishment deters future offenses; and

4. the punishment satisfies the requirements of justice.

Under the first criteria, the TCCB recognizes that — when the death penalty is applied in any case — rehabilitation is not accomplished by the reintegration of the offender into society, but it is possible for the offender to repent before the imposition of the death penalty. Under this principle, capital punishment is not prohibited in all cases.

With regard to the protection of society from the offender, we note that there are rarely — if any — instances in which the death penalty is required in order to protect society from an offender. This is the result, in large part, of the current detention system.

Third, with regard to deterrence of future offenses, the TCCB contends that the death penalty has an inclusive relation to deterrence. Therefore, this criterion does not support capital punishment.

Finally, regarding the criteria that punishments ought to fulfill the requirements of justice: the bishops maintain that wrongdoing merits punishment. However, the punishment ought to fall upon the individual who committed an offense. Individuals who did not actually commit an offense should not be subject to the same penalty. This is what moves the bishops to intervene in favor of HB 316.

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