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.