As the jury in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the Boston Bomber, deliberated and ultimately recommended the death penalty, more states are slowly leaning away from the death penalty. Massachusetts abolished the death penalty in 1984. However, Tsarnaev’s trial was a federal one which allows for the death penalty. Nebraska is close to becoming the next state to abolish the death penalty. A final vote was taken to abolish it on May 20. All indication is that there are enough votes to ward off any possible veto by Republican Governor Pete Ricks.
What is unusual is that Nebraska is a conservative state headed by a Tea Party Republican Governor who supports the death penalty. Other recent states that moved to abolish the death penalty included Maryland in 2013, Connecticut in 2012, Illinois in 2011 and New Jersey in 2007. In all, eighteen states have abolished the death penalty with a third of those states’ banning it since 2007. Connecticut and New Hampshire round out the six states since 2007 to ban it. The number of states banning the death penalty since 2007 indicates a slow but steady stream of states leaning to abolish it.
And so it was surprising, that in Massachusetts where the State has banned the death penalty for decades, that a jury chose to recommend the death penalty for the Boston Bomber. And even with Martin Richard’s family,the youngest victim of the bombing, appealing for life without parole, the jury chose to render a death sentence. And as the jury rendered its death sentence for Tsarnaev, another death penalty trial was ongoing. James Holmes, the alleged Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooter, who stands trial for the killing of 12 persons and injuring 70 others, currently faces the death penalty. Holmes alleges insanity at the time of the offense. In Virginia, the Commonwealth intends to seek the death penalty in the case of Jesse Matthew, Jr. who allegedly abducted Hannah Graham, a University of Virginia student in 2014. While there might be a movement to end the death penalty, these three recent cases indicate there is no shortage of death penalty cases being tried in the U.S.
Debbie Hines appeared on the Thom Hartmann show on Monday, May 18 to discuss the death penalty in America and the outcome of Tsarnaev’s case.
The clip appears below:
Washington, DC based Debbie Hines is a trial lawyer, legal analyst and former prosecutor. She appears on Al Jazeera America, MSNBC, BET, C-Span, PBS, CCTV- America, Fox 5 (WTTG), RT America and TV One among others, speaking on legal news and issues.