Daily Duh

This Just In: Supermax Prison Is No Fun

If the name Dzhokhar Tsar­naev does­n’t ring a bell, let us help:

Dzhokhar Tsar­naev and his broth­er, Tamer­lan, were the bad guys respon­si­ble for the Boston Marathon bomb­ing on April 15, 2013, which killed three peo­ple and injured more than 260 others.

The death toll does­n’t include Tamer­lan Tsar­naev, because the bomb did­n’t kill him. Dzhokhar did: The broth­ers engaged in a gun­fight with police, and Dzhokhar ran over his broth­er with a car­jacked Mer­cedes SUV as he fled from police. The death toll also does­n’t include the police offi­cer who was killed at the scene.

But let’s clar­i­fy some­thing:  Dzhokhar and Tamer­lan were shoot­ing at police just before offi­cers tack­led Tamer­lan and were strug­gling to to sub­due him. Mean­while, Dzhokhar jumped into the Mer­cedes SUV and fled—but the Mer­cedes was fac­ing away from the gun­fight and the offi­cers sub­du­ing Tamer­lan. So Dzhokhar start­ed the Mer­cedes, made a three-point turn, and then gunned it direct­ly at the cops and his own brother.

The offi­cers rolled off Tamer­lan and scat­tered; the Mer­cedes missed a cou­ple of them by inches.

But it did­n’t miss Tamer­lan. Dzhokhar smashed into his broth­er and dragged him down Water­town’s Lau­rel Street before before he aban­doned the SUV, and was dis­cov­ered hid­ing in a boat parked in its own­er’s back yard a few hours lat­er and arrested.

Dzhokhar’s defense team claimed Dzhokhar was under his evil broth­er’s influ­ence and was inno­cent. It did­n’t work. Dzhokhar had scrawled out a man­i­festo while he was hid­ing in the boat, say­ing he was jeal­ous of his broth­er because the police made Tamer­lan a mar­tyr for the cause.

The police did­n’t mar­tyr Tamer­lan, though. Dzhokhar did. And Dzhokhar was con­vict­ed on all 30 counts he’d been charged with, includ­ing con­spir­a­cy, dead­ly use of a weapon of mass destruc­tion, and the mur­der of a police officer.

17 of those 30 counts were pun­ish­able by death. Dzhokhar Tsar­naev was sent to a super­max prison to wait while his lawyers and the pros­e­cu­tion and courts bat­tled over his fate.

Dzhokhar was 20 when he was arrest­ed. He’s 27 now. And he’s suing the Unit­ed States gov­ern­ment for $250,000, because liv­ing in a super­max prison real­ly sucks: The prison con­fis­cat­ed his base­ball cap and ban­dana; they won’t let him send his fam­i­ly pho­tos on social media; and they won’t let him send his attor­ney craft projects.

(Side note: If you were an attor­ney whose client built a weapon of mass destruc­tion out of fire­works and kitchen gad­gets, would you want him to send you any craft projects?)

(Side note 2: What exact­ly would Dzhokhar, a super­max inmate, do with $250,000?)

There are lots of legit­i­mate con­cerns about the dev­as­tat­ing effects of pro­longed iso­la­tion in super­max pris­ons. But Dzhokhar Tsar­naev isn’t there because he parked in a hand­i­capped spot. He mur­dered three peo­ple, injured 260+ more, mur­dered a police offi­cer, then mur­dered his own broth­er while he was attempt­ing to mur­der more police officers.

Reha­bil­i­ta­tion is, to put it mild­ly, off the table in this case. There are only two options fac­ing Dzhokhar Tsar­naev: Dying many years from now of old age in a super­max prison or dying some­time in the next few years in a super­max prison.

Either way, we’re all much bet­ter off now that he and his broth­er can nev­er hurt any­one else.

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