A few months after the horrific bombings at the Boston Marathon, surviving perpetrator Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be making second his appearance in federal court Thursday, where he faces charges of using weapons of mass destruction that killed three and injured more than 260 at the Boston Marathon in April. Although emotions will be running high, the American public should trust that the court will make the appropriate decision for Tsarnaev’s fate.
Tsarnaev, who is also being charged with killing a police officer, is facing a total of 30 federal criminal charges, 17 of which are punishable by death. Among the charges filed against Tsarnaev are the following: Use of a weapon of mass destruction and conspiracy, bombing of a place of public use and conspiracy, malicious destruction of property and conspiracy, firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence causing death, carjacking resulting in serious bodily injury, interference of commerce by threats or violence, aiding and abetting, and forfeiture.
Though his brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev did not live to face justice in the court, the public is chiming in and there appears to be a mix of opinions as to whether Dzhokhar should ultimately be put to death.
For those who were victims or for the families of individuals who were affected by the bombings, however, no matter what the outcome of the trial is, justice must be served.
Former U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan expressed that many “continue to suffer” and for those who have lost limbs or lost a loved one, this statement is spot on. “It’s an emotional day because of the horrific harm that he caused so many innocent people,” he said.
The Boston Globe has captured the sentiments of some of the victims’ families exceptionally well. However, one statement that stood out in my mind was that of Patricia Campbell, the mother of 29-year-old Krystle Campbell who died in the attack.
Described by the Globe as a “long time opponent of the death penalty” who has in recent days rethought her stance on that form of punishment, the loss of her daughter seems to have caused this change of heart.
“Under the circumstances, an eye for an eye feels appropriate,” Campbell said in response to the possibility of the death penalty.
Not comparing the logistics and monetary aspects of the death penalty with those of a life sentence in prison, what we should be asking ourselves is what would it mean to actually bring Tsarnaev to justice. We know that killing Tsarnaev will not resurrect any of the deceased victims, bring back anyone’s limbs, or reverse the events of the marathon. But for many, it seems that giving a comparatively equal punishment would be the best way to equalize the situation.
Unless he speaks out, the public cannot and will not ever know how Dzhokhar Tsarnaev feels in retrospect about his actions, but hypothetically speaking, what good would the death penalty be if it would make him a martyr? Alternatively, people may ask what good it would it be to incarcerate him for life instead of sentencing him to death if he is allowed to live while three others have died and countless more have been physically and emotionally scarred from his actions.
The point is that in situations like these, we know that the answer is to keep these individuals at the very least locked away where they may no longer cause harm, but deciding whether a life sentence or death is the best punishment is not a simple feat.
Ultimately, the case will be in the hands of a jury, and we can expect that the jury’s decision will bring Tsarnaev to justice in the manner that is circumstantially most proper. Though we cannot expect that the verdict will elicit a response from the accused perpetrator, we could only hope that the decision the court comes to will trigger an emotional effect on Tsarnaev as he reflects on the actions that have ruined the lives of many and will now wreck his own.