The death penalty casted upon 21-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is developing mixed emotions among the public. But based on previous attacks against the U.S. and the current state of the war against terrorism, Tsarnaev must be put to death.
Tsarnaev and his older brother, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, set off two homemade pressure-cooker bombs filled with shrapnel at the Boston Marathon. The heinous crime claimed the lives of three people: A 23-year-old woman, a 29-year-old woman and an 8-year-old boy.
The Boston attack in 2013 was the first attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, which took place in New York and Washington D.C. killing more than 3,000 people. This is also the first time that a terrorist was sentenced to death in the U.S. in the post 9/11 era.
These true, but unfortunate, circumstances provide more than enough justification to order the death penalty, despite the fact that the state of Massachusetts has abolished the death penalty since 1984. However, in a poll released by Boston’s NPR news station, 62 percent of Boston’s residents wanted to sentence Tsarnaev to life in prison rather than death. Since Tsarnaev was charged under federal statutes, he was given the death penalty.
The most recent case that can be correlated to the Boston terrorist attacks, when the culprit is put to death, is the Oklahoma City bombing at the Federal Building. In 1995, Timothy McVeigh, a former U.S. Army soldier, detonated a truck-full of explosives in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City.
The blast killed 168 people, including 19 children in the building’s day care center. Over 650 people were injured and over 300 buildings were damaged or completely destroyed near the explosion.
Similar to the way Tsarnaev requested to be put to death prior to his sentencing, McVeigh, who was already sentenced to death, requested that a federal judge stop all his appeals and set his execution date. At the young age of 33, McVeigh was put to death by lethal injection. If the U.S. was willing to put an ex-military soldier to death, Tsarnaev’s request to die will certainly be obliged.
What is yet to be known, is how long it will take for Tsarnaev to actually be put to death. When an inmate files an appeal for the death penalty, the process can be delayed for years. Timothy McVeigh is one of only three federal defendants, out of a total of 80 defendants since 1988, to be executed.
This is evident through previous cases where the person sentenced to death is not executed for a long period of time. Ted Bundy, one of the most notorious serial killers in the 1970s, was linked to 36 murders and was given a triple-life sentence. It took almost 10 years to finally execute Bundy.
It is no question as to whether Tsarnaev should be executed, but the issue is how this will affect terrorism against America. Unfortunately, regardless if Tsarnaev is put to death in a timely fashion or not, he will most likely go down as a martyr for terrorism against America. Even if Tsarnaev and his older brother had no ties to any terrorist organization. It was all about the timeliness of his crimes. Currently, James Holmes, a 27-year-old former grad student who shot up a Colorado movie theatre killing 12 and wounding 70, is also facing the death penalty. It will be interesting to see the outcome of his insanity plea in this era of war against terrorism.