Death Penalty Opponents Condemn Sentence For Boston Bombing

05/15/2015 05:48 pm ET | Updated May 15, 2015

After Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was sentenced to die on Friday, death penalty opponents quickly condemned the verdict.

Massachusetts law forbids the death penalty, but capital punishment was an option because the case was tried in federal court and the Department of Justice decided Tsarnaev's crimes, which killed four people and injured 264 others, merited the sentence.

"Today's verdict does not reflect the values of the majority of people in our Commonwealth," The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts said in a statement. "His verdict is an outlier, and does not change the fact that Americans increasingly reject capital punishment."

The statement pointed to an April Boston Globe poll that found that "less than 20 percent" of Massachusetts residents "believe Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev should be put to death."

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Steven W. Hawkins, executive director of Amnesty International USA, said sentencing Tsarnaev to die "is not justice."

"We condemn the bombings that took place in Boston two years ago, and we mourn the loss of life and grave injuries they caused," Hawkins said. "The death penalty, however, is not justice. It will only compound the violence, and it will not deter others from committing similar crimes in the future."

Hawkins added, "There remains no evidence showing that the death penalty deters crime or has any effect in reducing terrorism."

The Boston Bar Association, which opposes the death penalty, offered a more muted response.

"While the Boston Bar Association opposes use of the death penalty in any case, we respect that it was a difficult process for each juror and we respect the legal process that was so carefully followed in this case," BBA President Julia Huston said in a statement.

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In April, Bill and Denise Richard, whose 8-year-old son was killed in the bombing, penned a piece in The Boston Globe asking the DOJ to spare Tsarnaev's life by taking the death penalty off the table.

"As long as the defendant is in the spotlight, we have no choice but to live a story told on his terms, not ours," they wrote. "The minute the defendant fades from our newspapers and TV screens is the minute we begin the process of rebuilding our lives and our family."

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