ACLU of Massachusetts Statement on Death Sentence for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev
BOSTON – Today’s verdict does not reflect the values of the majority of people in our Commonwealth. The ACLU of Massachusetts has been disappointed from the start that the federal government sought the death penalty in Massachusetts, which has rejected capital punishment. The last execution in the state of Massachusetts took place in 1947. Even in this case, Massachusetts opposition to the death penalty has been reflected in public opinion polls, in the pleas of religious leaders, and in statements by victims’ families and survivors. In a Boston Globe poll conducted this April, Massachusetts residents—by a four-to-one margin—overwhelmingly opposed the imposition of a death sentence for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. Massachusetts religious leaders voiced their opposition to seeking his execution. Victims’ families and survivors in this case asked that federal prosecutors take the death penalty off the table and, instead, accept a sentence of life in exchange for no possibility of appeal or parole. This verdict is an outlier, and does not change the fact that Americans increasingly reject capital punishment.
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The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to every person in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.
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The Capital Punishment Project works toward the repeal of the death penalty in the United States through strategic litigation, advocacy, public education, and training programs for capital defense teams.