Capital Punishment

The deliberation phase of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial, one of the two men responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, brings to light the controversial debate on capital punishment and whether or not it should remain in today’s society.

Jake Matise, Columnist

Last month, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on all 30 counts for his role in the Boston Marathon bombing in April 2013, and 17 of the counts he was convicted of carry a possible death sentence. But should he be executed for his heinous crimes against innocent people, or just be sentenced to life? I feel that Tsarnaev should be given the death penalty, due to the horrific nature of what he did and his continued refusal to publicly apologize for murdering three people and injuring some 260 others.

I’m not advocating that every single convicted murderer in America should be sentenced to death, as some of them have actually apologized to the victims’ families for what they did. Therefore, a life sentence would be appropriate if the criminal understands what he has done, and it was not a gruesome attack like the Boston Marathon bombing. But when someone does such a terrible thing, something so extremely brutal, and they believes what they did was right, that is when capital punishment should be implemented.

Granted, last week, Tsarnaev appeared to cry in court when his relatives gave their testimony, and reportedly told Sister Helen Prejean, that “no one should have to suffer like [the victims] did.” However, Tsarnaev’s actions throughout the trial have greatly contradicted his reported remorse on that one day. He has remained emotionless for the majority of the trial, except for when he stuck up his middle finger to the camera in his jail cell, which was captured on video.

Regardless of his slight show of remorse, if he even meant it as such, it does not change what he did. He and his brother murdered three people, including an eight-year-old boy, and inflicted gruesome injuries upon hundreds of others. He was also driving the car after his brother, Tamerlan, murdered a police officer. When Tamerlan fell out of the vehicle after being shot, Dzhokhar ran over his own brother with the car, killing him. Furthermore, the bombing was a deliberate act of terrorism against the United States, and at such a widely attended event that people around the world participate in every year, and that donates money to more than 30 different charities. The atrocities he committed should make him a prime candidate for the death penalty, therefore providing some much-needed closure for the families of the victims.

If you look at the issue from a practical standpoint, why should the tax dollars of American citizens go toward providing and caring for convicted terrorists and serial killers for decades? Every year, $75,000 is spent to provide food and other necessities for one prisoner in Colorado’s ADX Florence Penitentiary, the supermax facility where Tsarnaev would be sent. Over the span of 20 years, it will cost $1.5 million to provide for that same one prisoner. Tsarnaev is only 21 years old, and will likely live for at least another 50 or 60 years if he is sentenced to life, so when Tsarnaev is 81 years old, 60 years from now, a total of $4.5 million will have been spent on keeping him alive behind bars. As an American citizen, would you want to help pay a part of that $4.5 million?

Capital punishment is something that must be used carefully, but I believe it still needs to remain an available option. As long as it is used wisely, and there are clear, just reasons for the sentencing, like in cases like this, it still should have a place in our justice system.