Ever since accused Boston bomber Dhzokhar Tsarnaev has been in custody, I've heard people say the same thing over and over again: "He'd better get the death penalty." People want to see justice be done, and their vision of justice involves death for the remaining Tsarnaev brother. But it may not go down that way.
As we know, the charge of guilty of using a weapon of mass destruction comes with a sentence of either life in prison or the death penalty. Two recent developments in the Boston bombing case have tilted the scales away from the death penalty and toward a life sentence.
First of all, Judy Clarke just joined Tsarnaev's defense team. If you're not familiar with the lawyer, she represented Tuscon mass shooter Jared Loughner and "Unibomber" Ted Kaczynski, among other notorious terrorists. Clarke is known for bargaining down her clients' sentences from death to life in prison. "She is excellent, tough, tenacious, and wise," says Tamar R. Birckhead, a lawyer who helped federal public defender Miriam Conrad on the "shoe bomber" Richard Reid's case. Conrad will be representing Tsarnaev as well.
The second reason Tsarnaev may not face the death penalty is because we're still trying to get information from him. According to two government sources, people involved in the case are talking about having Dzhokhar Tsarnaev provide more details on the attacks in exchange for "having the death penalty taken off the table," CNN reports. This is not a done deal! No deal has been struck. All that's happening now is people are talking about the possibility.
I think in this case we have to keep the greater good in mind. If taking the death penalty off the table means getting more information on other suspects, or at least other people who may pose a threat to us, I think that's worth the bargain. Even though that may not be emotionally satisfying, we have to think about the potential for lives saved. But again -- it's too soon to say. He could very well still get the death penalty.
How would you feel if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev eventually got life in prison instead of the death penalty?
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