Should Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Get The Death Penalty?

NPR reports that federal prosecutors are discussing “taking the death penalty off the table” in exchange for the cooperation of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving (and alleged) Boston Marathon bomber.

The radio network notes: “The reports about discussions involving the death penalty come as a newWashington Post/ABC News poll shows ‘a large majority of Americans support the death penalty for the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombing should he be convicted in federal court.'”

The Washington Post adds:

The bigger divide on the death penalty is between whites and African Americans. While 75 percent of whites say they would back the use of the death penalty were Tsarnaev convicted, the support among African Americans barely goes past the midpoint: 52 percent of African Americans would support the death penalty, and 43 percent would oppose it.

The large gap between whites and blacks has probably more to do with the death penalty itself than this particular case. In a recentWashington Post Maryland poll, 63 percent of whites and only 37 percent of African Americans said they favor the death penalty for people convicted of murder.

In any case, Americans may want Tsarnaev killed—but they also want him tried in a civilian court: 74 percent of Americans prefer that approach to a military commission, which is illegal in any case.