Since the April 15, 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, the most deadly terrorist attack on United States soil since 9/11, which killed three and wounded 264, much anger and rage has been directed toward the surviving perpetrator of the crime, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev — and justifiably so.
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, his brother, died in the shootout that ensued, but Dzhokhar is now facing the question of whether or not he should be executed for his crimes. His mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaev, has loudly proclaimed on Russian social media and in the public sphere that her sons are not guilty of any crime.
“I will never forget it. May God bless those who helped my son. The terrorists are the Americans and everyone knows it. My son is the best of the best,” Zubeidat Tsarnaev wrote, according to USA Today.
This, however, has not changed the opinions of the American people. She may feel her son is innocent, but the jury that convicted Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on every count seems to disagree. In the legal trial, the defense even admitted that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was involved. His attorney, Judy Clarke, said that Tamerlan Tsarnaev was the leader and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was following orders. In any case, Dzhokhar was convicted on 30 different counts of criminal charges.
The stir that has come about from this case is not just in the magnitude of the crime, but also in appropriate punishment.
Massachusetts, one of the more liberal states in the union, has not had the death penalty in about three decades. The federal charges that the Boston bomber is being charged with would allow execution if the jury agrees to that extent. The jurors where specifically chosen to be neutral to the death penalty by the courts, but the jurors only have to have one person disagree with capital punishment to prevent it from happening.
The likelihood of the death penalty being enacted is not high, but is still present.
The only major terror suspect to receive such a penalty was Timothy McVeigh, who attacked Oklahoma City’s Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in 1995, killing 168 people and wounding well over 650 more. That attack is considered one of the worst ever, and yet the public was not fully supportive of the death penalty in 2001.
So now, about 14 years later, it is unlikely that the Boston bomber will be given death considering the scenario. People who attacked the World Trade Center both in 1993 and 2001, and who were actually caught, were never killed. The penalty is often pursued by the federal government but rarely happens, as reported by Eli Hager in a Business Insider article.
Whether or not the death penalty is warranted here, I personally think if there is a crime worth killing for, this would be it. However, this does not change the idea that avoiding the penalty is better for the society as a whole. One, a non-death sentence does not create a figure for other radicals to rally behind. Two, it takes the air out from Zubeidat Tsarnaev’s comments, and allows the United States to be bigger than the threat we are fighting for.
The killing of the Boston bomber may bring some closure, but a prison life sentence can accomplish the same with time. Killing Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will not bring back the people lost. Many people showed the great spirit of America coming together after the attacks, so let us not sully that spirit and pride for the sake of revenge. America rises above terror and murder as used by radicals, and should not stoop to their level.