Sunday, May 19, 2024

Death penalty gives criminals easy way out

Those who agree with capital punishment will usually point to cost of incarceration as one of their supporting arguments. Death, however, is simply an easy way out for those who commit atrocities.

It’s been proved by their actions that Boston bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev did not fear death. They walked the streets of Boston with bombs strapped to their back and engaged police in a shootout where 26-year-old Tamerlan was shot and killed.

Sentencing a man like this to death will do no good. What most would consider a punishment, Dzhokhar considers a reward.

This man deserves the most severe punishment available, but that punishment should not be death. In an MSNBC article by Mark Osler, “Sentence the Boston bomber to meaninglessness,” Osler argues that Tsarnaev is typical of most terrorists.

“For someone like Tsarnaev, and many others like him, the real fear is a life of being unimportant.”

Tsarnaev decided to leave his mark through utter destruction and chaos. What he fears most is not death — it’s unimportance. Being incarcerated for life and inevitably being forgotten is the harshest punishment for a man who doesn’t fear death.

Sure, it might cost quite some money to keep him locked up, but let’s consider the further punishment he would endure while in prison. Jeffrey Dahmer, for example, was sentenced to 16 terms of life imprisonment but faced a much harsher punishment. After Dahmer requested to be held in a less confined area, he was bludgeoned to death with a 20-foot metal pole while in the showers of the prison gym.

Following his death, the public rejoiced and declared attacker Christopher Scarver a hero. A similar scenario would undoubtedly occur if Tsarnaev wasn’t placed in solitary confinement. It’s more of a punishment dying a slow, painful death rather than a quick, painless one.

Domestic terrorists commit atrocities for notoriety. Forgetting about Tsarnaev completely is the punishment he fears most. Think about all of the media attention we give these sociopaths — they love it. The death penalty glamorizes these individuals and allows them to go out in a blaze of glory. Letting them rot, however, is torture for anybody who fears meaninglessness.

The death penalty is illegal under Massachusetts state law but is legal in federal cases. The state has not held an execution in more than 60 years. Executing Tsarnaev would be viewed as an historic event, and that’s exactly how he wants to go out.

We respond to terrorist attacks by turning to extreme forms of patriotism. Flags are waved over our heads and cars as we call for the termination of every individual, group or ethnicity we deem responsible for killing on American soil.

We still clench onto the Code of Hammurabi as an excuse to receive justice. But justice comes in other forms, as well. Ever hear of karma? Dahmer received his, Aaron Hernandez will likely receive his during his life sentence and so will Tsarnaev.

“An eye for an eye” emphasizes equitable consequences while karma could result in a much greater punishment for the degree of the crime committed. A life of punishment is much more difficult to withstand than a few seconds of a vial of chemicals entering the bloodstream.

Email Chris Burek at

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