Dzhokhar Tsarnaev may wish that he had picked a different locale for him and his brother to go blowing things up. Last week, Mister Tsarnaev was sentenced to death in a Boston courtroom for the crimes he committed back in 2013. If they would have picked a city in Iraq, the brothers might be hailed as heroes, or at least as martyrs to the cause. Instead, Dzhokhar will be held on death row until the appeals process has run its course. Now twenty-one years old, it is likely that the convicted killer of three will be an older man before the clock winds down on this particular show, leaving lethal injection as the only way out of prison after being found guilty on thirty counts, seventeen of which carried the death sentence. In the eyes of the law, Tsarnaev just can't be dead enough.
If the brothers had chosen instead to kill and injure runners at the Nebraska Marathon, however, things might have gone much differently. That is because this week Nebraska lawmakers gave final approval to a bill abolishing the death penalty with enough votes to override a promised veto from Republican Governor Pete Ricketts. Life in prison? Not a problem. But since no one has been executed in Nebraska for eighteen years, the challenge to this new vote seems slim. As red states go, it's a pretty interesting swing, made possible by the realization that having a death penalty and using it are two very different things. The cost of maintaining the endless appeals and the moral objections that many people both liberal and conservative maintain may mean the death of the death penalty. After all, what good is sentencing someone to death and they end up dying of old age before you can poison them?
I kid the Nebraskans, because it is my birthright as a native Coloradan. The embarrassing part here is that Colorado continues to keep execution of their prisoners as an option, even though only one person had been put to death since the reintroduction of capital punishment back in 1977. Boy, is my face red. Even if my football team's colors are not.