This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Youth Ki Awaaz. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

The Implications Of The Death Sentence For The Boston Marathon Bomber

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Jody Lynne Madeira, Indiana University, Bloomington ; Christopher B Daly, Boston University; Jeffrey Kaplan, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, and Nancy Berns, Drake University

The jury has spoken. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev now faces execution for his role in the Boston Marathon bombings. The sentence was announced on the afternoon of Friday, May 15, in federal district court in Boston after a grueling months-long trial that alternatively depicted Tsarnaev as a coldly calculating killer and a malleable youth influenced by his older brother. The jurors came to their decision after deliberating for about 14 hours over the past three days. Tsarnaev’s case will be automatically appealed.

We asked a panel of scholars to examine the implications of the trial and the final sentence.

Will an execution prevent future terrorist acts?

Jeffrey Kaplan, University of Wisconsin–Oshkosh

On April 8, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty of numerous counts including the use of a weapon of mass destruction – albeit a homemade and poorly deployed one – relating to the attack on the runners and spectators at the Boston Marathon. On May 15, he was sentenced to die.

Now that his fate has been determined, the media and the public will shift its focus to the debate on the efficacy of the death penalty as a deterrent to violent crime.

In this case, however, as in other instances of deadly violence related to contemporary terrorism, whether the defendant lives or dies is of little import.

In the lion’s share of lone-wolf strikes that are motivated by conflicts occurring far from American shores, perpetrators, aspirants and wannabes alike are willing to embrace death and see prison as a form of matriculation to greater heights of the terrorist trade.

A more efficacious use of media space would be to better understand the populations – primarily second-generation immigrants and recent converts – who are susceptible to calls for lone-wolf strikes emanating from their homelands, or as is becoming increasingly common, by non-state actors such as ISIS or al-Qaida.

Such lone-wolf or autonomous cell attacks which take place in their countries or place of residence are particularly effective in that domestic lone wolves operate largely under the radar of the state. Security agencies are able to track communications from such potential homegrown terrorists through their participation in on-line bulletin boards or through fan letters to foreign terrorist figures (not too bright but in many cases all too true).

Fr. Sean Connor conducts a mass to celebrate the life of Martin Richard, of Dorchester, in Boston, Massachusetts June 9, 2013. Richard, one of the victims of the April 15 bombing at the Boston Marathon, would have turned 9 this weekend. REUTERS/Gregory L. Tracy/ Pilot Media Group/Pool
Fr. Sean Connor conducts a mass to celebrate the life of Martin Richard, of Dorchester, in Boston, Massachusetts June 9, 2013. Richard, one of the victims of the April 15 bombing at the Boston Marathon, would have turned 9 this weekend. REUTERS/Gregory L. Tracy/ Pilot Media Group/Pool

Dawa (translated as the “Call”) communications are ubiquitous. Most have to do with urging Muslims to live more in accord with Islamic law and practice. Urging Muslims to wake early enough to perform the five daily prayers is a common example of Dawa. Other forms of dawa are not so benign.

Al-Qaida militants published an attractive on-line glossy English language magazine titled Inspire, as a form of violent dawa.

The first issue of the journal contained a helpful guide to potential lone wolves playfully titled “Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom,” which was said to have aided the brothers who carried out the Boston bombings. They were also reportedly heavily influenced by the virtual reality environment of Second Life. There, a Finnish sympathizer with the Chechen cause created the Kavkaz Center, where avatars operated by members of the dissident Chechen community interacted. Their story is brought to life by the filmmaker Pekka Niskanen’s Virtual War documentary.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev visited the Kavkaz Center, and was presumably further radicalized there to the extent that the Inspire article could have an impact.

Greater emphasis on deterring terrorist attacks through better intelligence focused on the world on-line calls for violence, which impact most effectively on young converts to Islam or second-generation immigrants to Western countries, could render the debate on the death penalty moot.

That’s our court. Open it up.

Christopher B Daly, Boston University

Now that the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is over, we can see one big flaw in a judicial proceeding that was otherwise, on the whole, admirable.

No matter how well conducted that trial was, it pointed up a major shortcoming in our system: the lack of TV cameras in federal courts.

In my career as a journalist, I have covered all three branches of government. The federal judiciary is the most opaque of them all. At every level, the federal courts are the least accessible to the average citizen and the most resistant to change.

This is regrettable, because it means that when an important case is tried in a US district court like the one in Boston, the only way to see it is to fight for one of the small number of seats available in the courtroom.

The ban on televising proceedings gives the unnecessary impression to the rest of the world that our courts are not truly open. Any closed proceeding is inherently suspicious. If our court system is to be seen doing justice, then it must be seen.

Most of our state courts have allowed TV cameras for years, with no detrimental effects. We should be an example for the rest of the world in having a truly transparent judiciary.

Those courts belong to the American people. We fund them, and it is ultimately up to us to decide to open them up. Tell the Congress: Let us all see what goes on in our courts.

Crosses for Boston Marathon bombing victims Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi and Martin Richard, artifacts saved from the makeshift Boston Marathon bombing memorial.  REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Crosses for Boston Marathon bombing victims Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi and Martin Richard, artifacts saved from the makeshift Boston Marathon bombing memorial. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Looking away from a perpetrator can be a life-affirming choice

Jody Lynne Madeira, Indiana University-Bloomington

After a brutal accident, a murder or traumatic event, often family members and survivors stress there is no “closure” but affirm that one can move forward.

Part of moving on, however, involves putting a perpetrator’s presence into perspective.

Trials are events where it is appropriate for victims to look at a perpetrator and to demand accountability. It is often hard to avoid news of the perpetrator during arrest, trial, sentencing and execution; he can become a ubiquitous and often traumatizing magnet for media attention.

Coverage of a trial often grapples with whether the perpetrator is remorseful, illustrated by the reports of both Tsarnaev’s middle-finger salute to his cell camera in his jail cell and Sister Helen Prejean’s testimony that he had expressed sympathy for his victims.

In 1997 and again in 2001, incessant coverage of Timothy McVeigh’s trial and execution made it almost impossible to avoid him. Amid intense speculation about a closed-circuit execution broadcast, McVeigh collaborated on an authorized biography and participated in numerous media interviews, including a 60 Minutes interview conducted live from his prison cell.

Family members’ and survivors’ desire for McVeigh’s execution may have been rooted in his culpability for the Oklahoma City bombing, but it was his high media visibility that ultimately transformed it into a desperate and urgent need to silence him.

Much too depends on a perpetrator’s sentence. Execution surely removes perpetrators from both Earth and public eye, but the lethal journey is longer, with many appeals and much publicity. The parents of 8-year-old Martin Richard asked prosecutors to cease their pursuit of the death penalty lest it yoke victims and their families to the perpetrator, the penal process and the trauma.

Part of survivors’ adaptation is deciding how best to map out preferences and coping strategies – a highly individual process.

Regardless of whether a perpetrator’s sentence is death or life, survivors can and do make conscious choices to look away, to not cede control to a perpetrator, and to refuse to allow him to become an involuntary presence.

Looking away is an act of reclamation; it’s not an act of forgetting or naively trusting in an unblighted future. It is a choice – and an especially necessary one to make now that Tsarnaev will almost certainly be, like McVeigh, the hyper-visible subject of unceasing media commentary.

The  memorial for MIT police officer Sean Collier at MIT. Collier was killed by Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on April 18, 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder
The memorial for MIT police officer Sean Collier at MIT. Collier was killed by Boston Marathon bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on April 18, 2013. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

A death sentence will not bring “closure” in this case

Nancy Berns, Drake University

After a sentence in a violent murder case, why are we so quick to announce the arrival of “closure”? The illusive idea of closure appeals to our fast-paced-move-on-now culture.

Even though the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, one of the men responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing, has ended with the death penalty, “closure” may never come.

When those grieving hear the word “closure,” they often assume people are telling them their grief should be over. They hear that they should stop talking about their loss. While it is an end to the trial, it is not an end to the survivors’ pain.

The jury’s decision to send Tsarnaev to death row will not bring closure for the families. In many capital cases, victims’ families are given false hope that their pain will go away with an execution. The debate about the role of capital punishment in our justice system will continue, but the unrealistic promise of closure for victims needs to be left out of it.

Family members of those killed and injured in the bombings will learn to live with their loss while their love remains. They may be relieved to have the trial behind them, but their pain and grief will still be part of the journey. Some of them may be in favor of the decision to end Tsarnaev’s life, but others find no peace in having their names attached to his death.

They do not need closure to heal, but they do need space to grieve and to hold their loved ones in their hearts and minds. Give them the space and time they need. No closure required.

Featured Image: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in a handout photo. REUTERS/U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston/Handout via Reuters.

The Conversation

Jody Lynne Madeira is Professor of Law at Indiana University, Bloomington .
Christopher B Daly is Associate professor of journalism at Boston University.
Jeffrey Kaplan is Associate Professor of Religion at University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.
Nancy Berns is Professor of Sociology at Drake University.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Read the original article.

You must be to comment.

More from Youth Ki Awaaz

Similar Posts

By Ritwik Trivedi

By IMPRI Impact and Policy Research Institute

By shakeel ahmad

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.









We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below