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Sen. Warren Opposes Death Penalty for Convicted Boston Bomber

Though Massachusetts, where both the crimes and trial took place, does not have the death penalty, the federal charges under which Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was convicted allow for it.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) says her opposition to the death penalty extends to the convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. (Image: Screenshot/CBS News)

Despite the in-state and national vitriol aimed at the recently convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) on Thursday made it clear her opposition to the death penalty is not selective.

“You know, my heart goes out to the families here, but I don’t support the death penalty," Warren said when asked about the case on CBS This Morning. "I think that he should spend his life in jail. No possibility of parole; he should die in prison." What is most important, she said, is that the families "have a chance to heal" from the criminal attack that claimed three lives and left hundreds of others injured.


Convicted on Wednesday of all counts related to the 2013 bombing near the finish-line of the Boston Marathon, the jury is now considering whether or not Tsarnaev should receive life in prison or be executed. Though Massachusetts, where the crimes and the trial both took place, does not have the death penalty, the federal charges for which Tsarnaev was convicted do allow for it.

As the Boston Globe reports, opposition to the death penalty remains the majority opinion in the state, even in a case that has drawn such national and international attention:

A WBUR poll of 504 Boston area residents last month found 49 percent believe Tsarnaev should be sentenced to life, while 38 percent say he should get the death penalty. Among a subset of 227 voters in Boston proper, the split was even wider, with 62 percent favoring life in prison and 27 percent preferring a death sentence.

US Representative Michael Capuano, a Somerville Democrat, said he opposes the death penalty. And he suggested a life sentence would be a worse punishment. “Imposing it won’t undo the death and destruction Tsarnaev caused two years ago,” he said. “The defendant has expressed a wish to die a martyr. I prefer that he have many years to reflect on his crimes.”

US Representative James P. McGovern, a Worcester Democrat, and Representative Joseph P. Kennedy III, a Brookline Democrat, both voiced opposition to the death penalty Thursday and said Tsarnaev should remain in jail for the rest of his life. Richard Neal, a Springfield Democrat, said he is opposed to the death penalty.

Representative Seth W. Moulton, a Salem Democrat opposed to the death penalty, said the Marathon bomber deserves a “severe sentence.” Representative Katherine Clark, a Melrose Democrat, said she remains opposed to the death penalty “even in this horrific case.”

In her column this week, Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman highlighted how the Tsarnaev case "provides a new reason to take a hard look at capital punishment" in the United States.

According to Goodman, the death penalty in the U.S. has a troubling history of wrongful convictions and racial disparity. In addition to the many "legal, ethical, racial and economic-injustice arguments" against capital punishment, she also points to "practical considerations"—like cost, human fallibility, and growing concern about lethal injection cocktails—as reasons why the "irreversible" punishment of the death penalty should be banned once and for all.

On Thursday's Democracy Now!, Goodman and her co-host Juan Gonzalez interviewed James Rooney, president of Massachusetts Citizens Against the Death Penalty, and asked him for his thoughts about Tsarnaev's conviction as well as the history and current state of the death penalty both in Massachusetts and across the country. Watch:

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