When it comes to someone’s life…can we really place value on a list of pros and cons?
A jury must now decide the fate of twenty one year old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev based on his involvement in the Boston Marathon bombing. The judge in this case has asked jury members to consider both the aggravating and mitigating factors – but not as a means to balance the scales one way or another but rather in terms of each points significance.
At this time, there are two possible outcomes. Punishment for his crime will be either life in prison, or the death penalty.
Here’s a list of some things the jury will have to consider before coming to their final verdict.
- Tsarnaev deliberately created a situation where multiple people were at potential risk of death
- Tsarnaev was 19 at the time of the bombings
- Tsarnaev committed the act in an especially heinous manner which caused physical harm to his victims (including the death of officer Sean Collier)
- Tsarnaev has no prior history of violence
- Tsarnaev was involved in the planning of this act of terrorism
- Tsarnaev’s older brother was at the head of their plans
- Tsarnaev’s friends and family describe him as thoughtful, caring and considerate of others
- Tsarnaev caused death to people who were especially vulnerable (youth – 8 year old Martin Richard)
- Tsarnaev was disadvantaged in terms of stability at home due to his father’s disability (mentally ill – brain damage)
- Tsarnaev has expressed remorse for the crime he’s committed and the pain he has caused
- Tsarnaev chose the marathon as the location for the bombing particularly for the large crowd it would draw
- Tsarnaev’s older brother was a radical and that influenced him greatly
Approaching this list from the perspective of someone who doesn’t support capital punishment is interesting. Public opinion clearly shows some hesitations when it comes to the death penalty. One of which is wrongful convictions. In this case, that doesn’t apply. Perhaps, though, we need to think about the chance of rehabilitation. The opportunity for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to become a contributing member of society (even if from behind prison walls).
I think it’s clear that he was in a weak and volatile state of mind that was elevated by the mindset and extremism of his brother. The jury has a tough decision to make…and hopefully they make the right one.
What would you decide?