Statement from Indiana Abolition Coalition on the Sentencing of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

A jury has recommended the federal government execute Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. If sentenced to death, the government will kill him here, in Indiana.

The Indiana Abolition Coalition opposes the execution of Tsarnaev. We urge all Hoosiers to tell the federal government, “Not in my state.”

The execution would occur in Indiana because the federal government operates its death chamber at the United States Penitentiary in Terre Haute. The federal government has executed three people this century. Tsarnaev would join 61 other men awaiting execution by the federal government.

At this point, it is unclear how the government would execute Tsarnaev. Individual states that retain capital punishment have had trouble finding lethal injection drugs. Western democracies that previously supplied the drugs oppose the practice, and U.S. companies are reluctant to have their medications used for executions.

Federal executions have been relatively rare. No one was executed by the federal government in the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s; three were killed since 2000.

Capital punishment is also relatively rare in Indiana; our state has not executed anyone since 2009. Yet, over a dozen face possible execution.

The Indiana Abolition Coalition opposes the execution of Tsarnaev and of all Americans. We believe there is no purpose execution can serve that life imprisonment cannot serve equally or better. Its implementation in the case of Tsarnaev would be solely for the purpose of vengeance. We do not believe this is a legitimate reason for killing in a civilized society.

We call on all Hoosiers to oppose Tsarnaev’s execution and help end executions in our state.

-Doris Parlette for the Board of Directors

I am a member of the board of directors for the Indiana Abolition Coalition. Our mission is to build consensus to end the death penalty in Indiana through education, collaboration and activism. For more information, visit us at or


Conservatives and liberals should agree on the death penalty.

I very much believe that there are opportunities ripe for collaboration between unlikely parties, like drugs and housing the homeless. These are examples of public policy that will save money, reduce crime, respect the dignity of those affected, and lead to positive social outcomes. Some of the ideas in this series require more study before widespread implementation, but I believe there is enough data to warrant further inspection and at least merit experimentation.

The Issue: The Death Penalty


Abolishing the death penalty is one item we should all agree on as Americans. Every single one of us should oppose the death penalty. It is a stain upon our nation that we continue to execute our own citizens in the year 2014.

You may notice that I am writing this just days before Christmas. This may seem like a real downer. After all, Christmas is about life, about the birth of hope going into a new year, and the love of Christ being shared with the world.

If talking about how we hold people accountable for their crimes inspires discomfort and unease during a time of joyful celebration, perhaps that is one indication we are doing it wrong. Does the thought of killing someone during the Christmas season make you uncomfortable? It should. Listen to that discomfort; it’s telling you that something is terribly wrong with our justice system.

Conservative beliefs:

  • Personal responsibility
  • Limited government
  • Free markets
  • Individual liberty
  • Strong national defense
  • The role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals.
  • Conservative policies generally emphasize empowerment of the individual to solve problems.

If you are concerned about personal freedom, about individual liberty, there is no more egregious example of government overreach than depriving someone of their physical life. The death penalty is an expensive way to administer punishment (I won’t say justice). It is also an outcome often driven by systemic racism, where the guilt of the perpetrator is often in question.

See these conservative groups opposed to the death penalty for expanded arguments on this position:

Liberal beliefs:

  • Government action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all.
  • Duty of the government to alleviate social ills and to protect civil liberties and individual and human rights.
  • The role of the government should be to guarantee that no one is in need.
  • Liberal policies generally emphasize the need for the government to solve problems.

Many of the problems with the death penalty, aside from what many people of faith see as a basic moral injustice, resides with its inherent systemic problems. For instance:


These are just a few of the myriad issues with capital punishment, from both sides of the political aisle. There is simply no reason to put anyone to death in America in 2014. Revenge has never been a stated objective of our judicial system (nor should it be).

The death penalty is expensive, ineffective as a deterrent, and diminishes us all by its presence here. We as a nation should abolish the death penalty. Conservatives and liberals both should agree on this objective based on complementary and shared values.

Further Reading: