Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's verdict came down today. He will get death barring successful appeal.

I don't want to discuss the verdict but rather the logic of some death penalty opponents.

What they say goes something like "He should be sentenced to life in prison. That is a worse sentence than death." 

Two things: First, if the person on trial believed that, then why does he plead not guilty and hire attorneys to keep him from being executed?

Secondly, isn't it extremely unseemly and inhumane to be arguing that someone should get a punishment worse than death?

(To be clear about my own biases, I oppose the death penalty because of the possibility of a bad verdict. When a murder is caught on video or in front of ample trustworthy witnesses or science proves the guilt of the offender, I have no problems with it. But let's not discuss that in this thread.)

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It could be considered cruel and inhumane to house a convicted felon in a small cubicle for twenty three hours a day, with no contact with other inmates. The isolation from human interaction in and of itself could be considered inhuman. I would not want to live under those conditions. There is simply no discernible quality of life. My energies would be directed toward discovering a means to terminate my existence at the first opportunity. 

One other aspect that cannot be overlooked is that a felon doing life with no possibility of parole is going to be less inclined to care about the safety of those they come in contact with. If they receive an opportunity to shove a shiv in a correction officer's belly or neck, or even another inmate, what have they got to lose by doing so?

Being faced with the choice of rotting forever in an isolated cell or getting a cocktail of drugs that puts me to sleep I would go with the needle.

As to punishments, even with our use of the death penalty, there are worse incidents for comparison. I heard about an individual in Pakistan, or Iran maybe, who was given a sentence of 1000 lashes for the crime he was accused of committing. When the administrators of the penalty saw how the accused's back looked after the first hundred or so lashes they were forced to stop. His back was already so chewed up that they feared he would perish if the punishment continued. They decided to let his wound's heal and bring him back for another round of lashes later on. How thoughtful and considerate of them.

This is exactly what happened to Raif Badawi after the first 50 lashes at the hands of members of the religion of peace.

I was thinking about this very verdict when I saw this post. Whether to kill, and thus provide a martyr for other terrorists, or to imprison for life and thus provide fodder for a future prisoner exchange. Oddly, your death penalty mechanism will put the condemned man into a kind of limbo for several years, as the appeal process crawls along. By the time the man can actually be killed, a lot of time will distance the penalty from the crime, and may mitigate the martyr threat.

The death penalty is much more of a threat when the potential criminal either believes he/she has done wrong, and fears a godly judgement or is an atheist and believes death is absolute. It carries much less of a threat with the religious fanatic, as he/she believes they will gain approval in an afterlife for their worldly activities.

In this instance, the young man believes he has followed his god's will and will most likely rejoice in the knowledge that after his death, he will be rewarded. Those carrying out the execution, most likely believe that their God will judge the man and throw him into some version of hell.

In an atheist environment, the death penalty might simply be the extinguishing of a life that has been counter-productive to its society. Unfortunately we don't have an atheist society with death penalty laws available to evaluate the effects of that thought.

It carries much less of a threat with the religious fanatic, as he/she believes they will gain approval in an afterlife for their worldly activities.

In fact death by the hands of infidels could be their most desired outcome.

I don't think a mass killer's desires should figure into the equation. Do you?

What I meant by "their" includes the desires of the Muslims in favor of his cause. So yes, maybe the motives should matter. He did it for God, and killing him is not "punishment", or at the very least not a logical deterrent.

I don't know any people who believe in capital punishment who view it as a deterrent. This is a red herring.

I'm thinking more about how future perpetrators view the "death penalty" as a doorway to happiness. You're right that I shouldn't have mentioned it as a possible deterrent. I should have mentioned it as a possible motivation.

I personally believe the death penalty isn't worthwhile if it doesn't act as a deterrent. Why pay all that money and put people (besides the perp) through all that grief, if it doesn't even provide a benefit to society or the world?

It's worthwhile to the extent they will no longer be able to murder anyone else.

Aww, I was hoping you wouldn't drop that cliche.

Cliche? I don't know, but it's a truism that it's impossible to murder someone from the grave.

I was surprised that the death penalty was the verdict rather than a life sentence. People in Boston are not as pro the death penalty as maybe Texans are. For the record I am against it but do understand the reasons people disagree with me. It is likely that the case will be appealed more than once and that these cases will drag on for years before it is commuted to life.

During all this time he will be held up as a martyr by Jihadists. However the worst part is that the victims’ families will be constantly reminded of him every time he is in the news. I know they live with the daily reminders of physical and mental injuries but the publicity surrounding the case will keep hitting the front pages. I think this will do a further injustice to them. They will not be able to move on from the court case by having to endure more of them every few years. Would it not have been better if the sentence was life in the first place as it is likely to turn out to be that anyway? At least this way he could have been sent to a Super Max and never allowed any more publicity.


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