Majority want death penalty if Boston suspect is convicted

Most Americans also back the decision to give Dzhokhar Tsarnaev a civilian trial

By Jillian Rayfield
Published May 1, 2013 5:23PM (UTC)
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A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that the majority of Americans want Dzhokhar Tsarnaev to get the death penalty if he is convicted of the bombings in Boston, by a margin of 70-24 percent.

The poll also finds that most of those surveyed agreed with the decision to try Tsarnaev in the federal court system, as opposed to a military tribunal, by a margin of 74-19 percent.


From the Post:

Majority support for the federal approach crosses party lines, with 80 percent of Democrats, 73 percent of independents and 72 percent of Republicans saying they back a civilian trial. However, Democrats are by far the most apt to support it “strongly.” Democrats are also the least likely to strongly support the use of the death penalty, although most of them do support it, at least somewhat.

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.

Jillian Rayfield

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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Boston Bombings Death Penalty Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Enemy Combatants Tamerlan Tsarnaev