It was a horrendous attack. Two bombs left in backpacks near the finish line of the annual
But should our emotional response to that act of terrorism blind us to the appropriateness of the criminal penalty to be sought? No.
Given the magnitude of the crime, it is understandable that the victims — from the families of those killed and maimed, to the city of Boston, to, by extension, the nation — feel the urge for revenge. This page has long opposed the death penalty, yet we also found ourselves caught up in the emotions surrounding
That tumbling to the emotion of the moment, though, points up one of the primary roles of the judicial system: to act as a buffer between victims' justifiable thirst for vengeance and the greater good of society. In our view, it is not the rightful responsibility of the state to act as executioner of its own citizens, no matter how heinous the crime, no matter how infamous the criminal and no matter how loudly people may call for it. Instead, society should put aside its visceral notions of revenge with a thoughtful examination of the morality, cost and effectiveness of capital punishment.
Cases like this test our strength as a mature democracy, and as a people who believe in justice. That's not to say convicted murderers and other perpetrators of egregious crimes shouldn't face severe punishment. Life without parole is the correct response in these extreme cases. It punishes the criminal while protecting society from future acts of violence.