Monday, May 20, 2024

Capital punishment necessary for justice

As runners cross the finish line after a 26.2-mile trek, family and friends clap and hoot. It seems like a joyous occasion of achievement for all involved. But then Boylston Street erupts. A loud explosion and cloud of smoke transform innocent bystanders into bloody, confused and mangled victims. Twelve seconds later, it happens again.

Three are dead and an estimated 264 are injured. The culprits: Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, two radical Muslim terrorist brothers.
Tamerlan died from a combination of gunshot wounds from police officers and being run over by a stolen Mercedes driven by Dzhokhar, who was later found and taken into custody.

For the past three months, Tsarnaev has been on trial for the Boston Marathon bombings, and just recently, he was found guilty. The decision now is whether to give Tsarnaev life in prison or the death penalty.

I’m no judge, jury or executioner, and killing is something I’d never like to be a part of, but I don’t see any good reason for keeping Tsarnaev alive. I don’t see how the world will progress with him being kept alive.

Will Tsarnaev reform into a better person? In a Boston Globe article, “Are we going to kill Dzhokhar Tsarnaev or not?” Kevin Cullen reports that as injured victims passed by Tsarnaev after their testimony, he “acted like a bored college student in a chemistry class.”
Any apology or reformation doesn’t seem likely.

If Tsarnaev receives life in prison he’ll never have a chance to fulfill any personal goals or contribute to society in a positive way, so at that point, he’s just taking up space.

In Massachusetts, the average cost of housing an inmate, as reported by the state’s Department of Correction, is $53,000 per year. Why should citizens who lost limbs and family members have to pay over half a million dollars to keep someone alive when that inmate wanted only to hurt people on a massive scale?

The Boston Marathon bombing was not murder or a personal incident. It was a terrorist attack. Tsarnaev didn’t care who he killed but just that he did kill. Think of other terrorists for a minute. Most people wouldn’t say, “Let’s give Jihadi John life in prison,” because people like him and Tsarnaev are focused only on the mission of spreading fear throughout the earth.

I don’t mean to come off all fire-and-brimstone-like. I’ve read articles describing how Tsarnaev was an average teenager. He’d hangout with his friends, eat cheeseburgers and he was even captain of his high school’s wrestling team. Apparently it was his brother who sucked him into a religious fanatic lifestyle. I really do feel bad for Tsarnaev.

Tsarnaev reminds me of another young man with potential who grew up to be a killer — Perry Smith, the famous murderer featured in Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood.”

Smith was intelligent, artistic and sensitive, but he was also poor, abused and unlucky. He was dealt a bad hand all his life, but that still doesn’t excuse the fact that he shot a boy and slit a man’s throat.

The same way Tsarnaev’s bombing should not be excused.

It’s hard to say somebody deserves to die. Taking a life is something no moral person or society should ever have to do. But then we need to remember Jess Kensky and her missing legs. We need to remember Krystle Campbell who died in the explosion. We need to remember Denise and Bill Richard who lost their 8-year-old son Martin.

Email Griffin Kelly at

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