The jury’s decision to sentence Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to death for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing two years ago has me rethinking my position on the death penalty.
In general, I’m against the death penalty. Before Tsarnaev’s trial, I would have told you human beings shouldn’t play God or stoop to the behavior they’re attempting to punish. But after following the news updates on the Tsarnaev trial, I don’t think I can claim the moral high ground any longer.
I think Tsarnaev’s jury came to the right conclusion. He did it, and he should be held accountable in the strongest possible way.
Mostly, I have real problems with the death penalty because human beings are imperfect and make mistakes. In fact, the Innocence Project has exonerated 20 people who were serving time on death row. Four percent of all people sentenced to death are innocent, according to a 2013 study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Killing someone for a crime they didn’t commit is kind of a problem in a free society. Beyond that, the inevitable legal wrangling in the wake of a death sentence is more costly than housing a criminal for life, and I really hate giving lawyers more reasons to make money.
But thanks to a world where surveillance cameras are de rigueur and a stupid teenager’s tweets are preserved forever, it’s crystal clear Tsarnaev a) did it and b) doesn’t regret it. Dropping a bomb at the feet of a child standing in a crowd and walking away is cold. Arctic cold. It’s hard to summon compassion for Tsarnaev. I don’t envy his defense team who attempted to manufacture remorse for this guy.
I gotta hand it to the jury who apparently held Tsarnaev accountable to death only for the criminal accounts in which he was directly responsible (pressure cooker bomb #2, the one he can be seen on film delivering).
While the sentence doesn’t have me jumping for joy, it seems like the right decision.