Dzhokhar Tsarnaev given death penalty in Boston Marathon bombing

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev given death penalty in Boston Marathon bombing
image: newyorktimes

It’s no surprise that the jury impaneled to hear the case of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev unanimously voted to put the young terrorist to death.  That decision was made on six of the seventeen counts for which Tsarnaev could have been executed.

The only real surprise is that Tsarnaev’s family still insists that he had nothing to do with attack.  Come to think of it, that’s no surprise, either.  Thankfully, they weren’t asked about global warming.

Personally, I’m neither happy nor sad that he got the death penalty.  I could argue it either way.  Might even make for a readable blog.

For  victims and for their families and friends, Tsarnaev’s death might offer closure, a sense of justice or maybe some form of peace of mind.  It won’t, however bring back anyone who died that day or regrow any limbs.  It won’t erase the images that many who witnessed the carnage that day will carry with them for the rest of their lives.

More than anything else, it will be time that allows those wounds to heal, both physical and psycological.  That is, in cases where healing is even possible.

As a practical matter, I don’t believe in the death penalty.  It’s not that I’m obsessively opposed to injecting poison into a scumbag’s veins and watching him spasm into oblivion, it’s just that it hasn’t proved much, if any of a deterrent to crime.

Opinions vary wildy but, in the end, I think it comes down to common sense.  The question we have to ask ourselves is whether or not the type of person who commits a capital crime is thinking about getting caught, much less executed.

Murdering a police officer is a capital crime in states that still have capital punishment.  It’s hard to a imagine, though a circumstance where someone would weigh the consequences of committing that crime.

I would think that a person who shoots a cop either hates cops so much that he doesn’t consider the risk involved, or it happens during the commission of crime where that person is trying to evade capture.

Either way, I don’t think the punishment is going to be a deterrent, whether it’s life in prison or the death penalty.  Some might even consider the death penalty preferable to life in prison, at least in theory.

We may find out one day that capital punishment actually increases the number of murders.  If we, as a society use execution as a way to solve our problems, what message does that send about solving problems on the individual level?

Most people executed in the United States die in Texas,  which has twice the murder rate as Wisconsin, where there is no death penalty.

For me, though the main arguement against capital punishment is that it can turn out to be a bit too permanent a punishment.  There have been far too many cases recently where modern science has proven the innocence of wrongly convicted men.  It has proven it beyond a reasonable doubt.

Those exonerations have lead to investigations into questionable procedures employed at all levels of law enforcement.  Great minds from Voltaire to Blackstone to Benjamin Franklin have always held that it is better to err on the side of the presumption of innocence.

None of the above, however applies to Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, although there are practical reasons not to execute him.

For people like Tsarnaev, death is the ultimate goal.  It’s martyrdom.  It’s coming to Allah with the blood of his enemies on his hands.  It’s what the mullahs and mufti teach.  It’s how they get kids to blow themselves up and fly planes into buildings.


The other reason is more about the survivors.  If Tsarnaev would have been sentenced to life in prison, he would have been locked away somewhere dark and soon faded from our memories.  Now, we’re going to have to hear about him over and over again throughout what will be a lengthy appeal process.

I think I would have favored the out-of-sight-out-of-mind alternative.

If we’re talking about deterents for the Tsarnaevs of the world, that’s a whole different story.  For that we need to take a page out of their playbook.

Whenever some Arab numbskull blew himself up on a bus in Tel Aviv, Yassar Arafat  would pay their families an annuity.  Whether it’s irony or idiocy, much of that terrorist slush fund came from the United States, but that’s not the point here.

Arafat used positive reinforcement to get kids to blow themselves to kingdom come.  The only way to deter that activity is to do the opposite.  It’s not going to be easy, hell it isn’t even legal.  Not yet, anyway.

Anyone planning a terrorist attack on U.S. soil or on U.S. citizens should know that his (or her) family will be hunted down and imprisoned indefinitely on suspicion of conspiracy to commit terrorism.

We could send them to Gitmo, while it’s still open.  After that, we could send them to Chicago’s Homan Square , or other cities that have similar facilities.

If that sounds drastic or draconian to you, let me tell you two things:
1.  It’s the only type of deterrent that will make these home-grown, wannabe terrorists carefully consider their choices
2.  My original plan was to eliminate their families, all the way back to and including 3rd cousins.

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