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EDITORIALS: USA Today Urges Life Without Parole for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

On May 12, the editorial board of USA Today affirmed its opposition to the death penalty in an editorial urging that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev be sentenced to life without parole, rather than the death penalty, for his role in the Boston marathon bombing. "Laws aren't written for a single individual, and the death penalty applies to many people," the editorial said.  "Tsarnaev and other infamous defendants . . . demonstrate the penalty's arbitrary nature. While Tsarnaev has a superb legal team, most defendants get by with lawyers who are inexperienced, low-paid and often inept." USA Today noted that "[m]ore than 150 death-row prisoners have been exonerated since 1972" and many cases have been reversed because of "'intolerable' errors by the defense" and "prosecutors withholding evidence."  The editorial also criticized the death penalty as "discriminatory," saying that death sentences are more likely to be imposed if the defendant is poor or black or "most certainly" if the victim is white.  USA Today also questioned the purpose of capital punishment, saying "[t]here's no credible evidence that it deters crime. Tsarnaev certainly wasn't deterred by the execution of terrorist Timothy McVeigh, who took 168 lives in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing." After describing the conditions of the federal supermax prison where Tsarnaev would serve a life sentence, the editorial concluded, "He deserves extreme punishment. But with the death penalty or without, that outcome is assured."


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