SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

February 10, 2014

Column: Death penalty warranted in Boston Marathon bombing case

The chances that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will actually be put to death for his alleged role in last year’s bombings at the Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured 260 are slim and none.

Tsarnaev, who faces 30 federal charges, is being tried in Massachusetts — a state where, according to at least one poll, only a third of the citizens support the death penalty. If he is convicted, it would take a unanimous jury to impose the death penalty. Like I said, slim and none.

But the announcement this past week that Attorney General Eric Holder has authorized prosecutors to seek the death penalty for Tsarnaev has predictably rekindled the debate over one of the most divisive issues in America.

That ought to be a good thing. Issues like this deserve frequent, vigorous debate. But it seems the talking points have become as predictable as the debate itself.

The prosecutors cite the usual list of reasons: Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan, who was killed in a shootout with police, intended to kill and/or maim their victims. They planned the attack and were guilty, as prosecutors alleged in court, of a “heinous, cruel and depraved manner of committing the offense.”

On the other side, death penalty opponents note the obvious, that putting Tsarnaev to death will not bring back those who died, nor heal the wounds or restore the limbs of those injured.

Beyond that, they contend that it costs more to put an inmate to death than to keep him in prison for life; that the death penalty is “cruel and unusual” punishment; that it demonstrates a disrespect for life that lowers society to the level of the murderer; that justice should never be about revenge; and that it is “not who we are as a society.” And, in this case, that it will grant Tsarnaev’s wish to be a martyr, while if he is imprisoned for life, he will be forgotten.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion

AP Video
Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground
Comments Tracker
Roll Call
Helium debate
Helium