Quick Take: Does the Boston bomber deserve capital punishment?
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Jan. 30 that the Justice Department would seek the death penalty against Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the man accused of bombing the Boston marathon last April. Do you think seeking the death penalty is the right choice? Does it contradict the Obama administration’s liberal agenda, or is it the only reasonable charge in this situation?
Capital punishment is never the answer
by Nathaniel Cohen
On April 15, 2013, two pressure cooker bombs exploded at 2:50 p.m., killing three people and injuring 264 others. One of the fatalities was a 29-year-old restaurant manager. The second was a 23-year-old graduate student. The third was an eight-year-old boy. The bombs exploded roughly 12 seconds and 100 yards apart. The attack occurred in a major metropolitan area, sending panic across the densely populated region and country.
Had this attack been carried out in Fallujah or Baghdad or Kabul, it would not make the news in the United States. It would barely be mentioned, just like the other acts of terrorism that continue to paint a bleak picture for stability in the Middle East. The response by the Obama administration would issue a statement about gathering the intelligence to determine what person or group was responsible for the attack, tracking down said person or group and having an unmanned aircraft send a couple Hellfire missiles in the direction of the terrorists. Sure, 17 civilians may have been harmed or killed in the crossfire simply because they were on their way to a wedding or a farmers market at the wrong time, but the main target may or may not have been incapacitated; good enough for government work.
But this attack wasn’t carried out in Fallujah or Baghdad or Kabul or any war-torn city in the Middle East. It was carried out on Boylston Street in Boston, Mass. allegedly by Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Therefore, the normal Obama administration response would not work. We couldn’t use our intelligence to track down the perpetrators and then indiscriminately rain hell down on their village, justifying the fact that multiple innocent civilians would be harmed or killed by remembering that two wanted men are among the targets. The collateral damage, if this course of action were to be pursued, would include innocent Americans. We have to draw the line somewhere.
And drawing lines is what the Obama administration hopes to do. Specifically, drawing three lines. One for five grams of sodium pentothal in 20-25 cubic centimeters of diluent. Another for 50 cubic centimeters of pancuronium bromide. And a third for 50 cubic centimeters of potassium chloride. Each chemical is lethal in the amounts administered.
The Obama administration’s decision to pursue the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is not surprising, given the administration’s already terrible treatment of suspected terrorists, but that does not make it right.
Granted, the Tsarnaev brothers acted in a “heinous, cruel and depraved manner” with “substantial planning and premeditation” and “reckless disregard for human life,” according to the Justice Department. The horrendous nature of the attack is undisputable. But in a morally upstanding society with a benevolent system of justice, we should pride ourselves on being above the death penalty. It is not the appropriate role for the state to act as executioner of its own citizens (of which the surviving Tsarnaev is one), despite the fact that the Tsarnaevs brutally assumed the role of executioner for those innocent people standing out on Boylston Street.
After the marathon, “Boston Strong” was a common rallying cry. If we as a nation want to display the strength that those brave Bostonians displayed following this tragedy, the most adamant pronouncement would mean not letting our most cherished values as a society be compromised.
Nathaniel Cohen is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs.
Capital punishment is flawed, but not wrong
by Zachary Andrews
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder recently announced that federal prosecutors would seek the death penalty for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the terrorists allegedly responsible for the Boston bombing. Many argue that the death penalty goes against President Barack Obama’s liberal agenda, but in reality it is the only viable solution. The death penalty is an effective deterrent, economically efficient and it would also help bring closure to the families of the victims.
The death penalty has been shown to be a successful deterrent. A 2004 study by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill showed one murder is prevented each time a person’s time on death row before execution is decreased by three years. In 1995, a former soldier named Timothy McVeigh blew up the Alfred B. Murrah building in Oklahoma City and 169 people were killed. Timothy McVeigh was captured shortly after, and he was sentenced to death, which was carried out in 2001. The Boston bombing is the first major example of domestic terrorism since. That execution has probably deterred similar terrorist plots in the past decade.
There are more efficient ways to spend tax dollars that would otherwise keep Tsarnaev alive in prison for the rest of his life. It costs about $29,000 annually to keep an inmate in a maximum-security federal prison. Throughout the country, there are an abundance of parochial schools that take inner-city students for about $3,000 a year. With the money that it would cost to keep Tsarnaev alive in prison, the U.S. could give approximately nine inner-city kids vouchers for an education that they would never have.
Three people were killed in the bombings along with one police officer who tried to subdue the brothers. Martin William Richard was only eight years old when he lost his life in the bombing; why should Dzhokhar have the right to live when took that very right from a child? For the families of the victims, it will bring them the justice they deserve.
I personally feel there are some flaws with capital punishment. It takes too long to execute someone and it still costs too much. I agree that everyone deserves a fair trial, but after the trial certain crimes deserve priority treatment.
Zachary Andrews is a sophomore in the School of Public Affairs
Death penalty lets Boston Bomber off the hook
by Michelle Sindyukov
If someone hurts you, should you hurt them back? People tend to think that the best version of revenge is hurting the person the same way they hurt you. This is not necessarily true; especially in reference to murderers and terrorists.
It was recently announced that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston marathon bomber, may receive the death penalty. I understand the logic behind the punishment, but is this real revenge?
By taking away the life of a killer, we don’t make him go through any psychological or internal struggle. Through capital punishment we barely force the prisoner to experience a struggle. Yes, he is in pain. But he knows that it will be a quick death. After he is dead, the struggle is over.
Now, imagine if the prisoner is put in a tiny room for 100 years. He is not allowed to have anyone in there and is only allowed to have visitors for special occasions. Just imagine being alone with your thoughts for a century. Just you and your brain. Think about what it’s like to be by yourself when you know you took away someone’s life. If you don’t go insane, you will almost certainly suffer from severe depression.
The logic behind the death penalty is that the murderer will experience “the same pain” as the human being he killed. However there really isn’t much suffering from fainting and dying as a result of lethal injection.
Of course, there are examples of killers who were put in cells that are better than some apartments. Anders Breivik killed 77 people in Norway and was put in a spacy room with Wi-Fi and a treadmill . Cozy treatment like that is just disrespectful to the victims’ families. Is he going to suffer as badly as someone who is put in a tiny room? Definitely not.
Taking away someone’s life because they killed people may actually elevate them in some people’s eyes. We make it look as if they died for what they believed in. That makes them look like heroes and can provoke others to take similar actions. If we instead imprison the killers forever, we eliminate that problem
So, is taking Tsarnaev’s life the best solution? Definitely not. The most fitting solution is to put him in a small jail cell for the rest of his life with nothing to entertain him. Make him suffer, make him regret and truly feel bad about what he has done. Don’t let him feel bad about killing innocent people for less than a minute; make him think about it for years.
Michelle Sindyukov is a freshman in the School of Communication