The Boston Bombing Trial: The Death Penalty?
On April 15th, 2013, the whole nation felt the terror resonating from the bombings at the Boston Marathon. Multifarious people, from all over the globe, tuned into the annual marathon held in the heart of Massachusetts. I, myself, lived on Beacon Street near Boston College, which is en route to the finish line. The bombers, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, were both residents of Cambridge, Massachusetts. My mother went to graduate school in Cambridge. Never did I imagine that an act of terror could unravel only a few miles from my home – let alone one carried out by two young men who virtually lived down the street.
Just over a month ago, the trial for the Boston Marathon Bombing began on March 4th, and has been proceeding in Boston. About a month later, on April 8th, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on 30 charges, those of which include 17 charges that could potentially “send him to death row,” according to CNN. This has led to a new phase in the case, in which surviving victims, relatives of the deceased, and others have come as witnesses before the jury to describe the horrifying and gruesome details of their injuries and the carnage that they witnessed.
Currently, according to a poll conducted by CNN , “53% of Americans say [Tsarnaev] should be put to death, while 45% feel he should spend the rest of his life in prison.” Opinions come and go, as do numbers. Maybe tomorrow the 53% will jump to 63%, or drop down to 43%. But what should remain the same is the value of a human’s life.
There are several reasons why, according to deathpenalty.org, people as well as those in Washington, should oppose the death penalty. One of them brings about an issue that the Richard family also mentions in their letter shared by the Boston Globe, in which they oppose the death penalty for Tsarnaev. The family writes a valid point of the amount of appeals that will follow the final verdict. If Tsarnaev is sentenced to death, the case will be prolonged by appeals to the court to reduce the penalty to life in prison. Not only will this result in even more expenses spent toward the case, but it will also elongate the pain that is being forced upon the victims and the nation.
Executing Tsarnaev will undoubtedly give the nation a breath of relief, maybe even closure. But to many, his death will do little to ease the pain caused by him and his brother. There is also the possibility that if Tsarnaev is sentenced to death, he may become a martyr to future homegrown terrorists who may become inspired to target even more Americans.
Personally, I oppose the death penalty because I cannot, as a fellow human being, put a value on someone else’s life. Who am I to say that a crime defines a stranger’s last breath? No matter how affected we are by a heinous act, death should not be the upshot to a problem. I am not saying this to disregard or excuse any of the unethical and violent behavior of Tsarnaev’s, or of any other convicted criminals’. Rather, I am bringing forward an approach to death penalties that asks people to view the accused with distanced empathy than sympathy or hatred. To jump to conclusions and agree to favor a death penalty because of a polarized media portrayal of a certain convict is ubiquitous and inevitable, but nonetheless immoral itself.
This should not be an eye-for-an-eye situation. Although the government acts as an agent of the people, what it wants to achieve from the death penalty should also be separated from what the victims want to achieve. Personal hatred and other sentimental factors are bound to add to the mounting bias against Tsarnaev. I am asking for those of you who are reading this to make your own judgments on impartiality.
Others may be more willing to grant a death penalty. Others will be more comfortable with saying “Dzhokhar Tsarnaev deserves the death penalty,” which should not be condemned by anyone but by those who say it; words are entitlements to the voices of their owners.
- Yeho Hwang