The death penalty as punishment for his role in the Boston Marathon bombings of April 2013 was always on the cards for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev once his case was put in the hands of a federal court. Massachusetts, the state where Tsarnaev and his older brother made their fatal attack on the famous marathon run, does not allow the death penalty. But federal law does – and 60 percent of Americans, according to a CBS poll, support this fate for the young murderer.
Is the federal jury’s decision the most just and reasonable response to a horrendous crime? Or have they missed an opportunity to deal a decisive blow to a kind of justice that Americans are increasingly rejecting as inhumane and unnecessary? After all, if the crime of a would-be mass murderer could be adequately punished in another way, there would no reason to execute anyone else.
There is no question that Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev planned lethal harm to many people and executed their plan in cold blood, killing three people and injuring more than 260 at the event. They also shot a policeman, and another policeman died during the pursuit of the bombers, as did Tamerlan himself. Theirs was a terrible crime and deserves a heavy punishment – something that America’s toughest jails are, from all accounts, well able to provide.
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