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Poll results underscore how jury is challenged from the outset

Jeff Jacoby (“Death or life for Tsarnaev?” Op-ed, April 22, 2015) makes an important point, that in a civilized society, the penalty a guilty man should be made to pay for a crime “must be fashioned by the public, not by victims,” and that “it is the interests of the public that are to be vindicated.”

Yet most Massachusetts citizens feel that the death penalty is never an appropriate punishment, even “for heinous crimes” (“Few favor death for Tsarnaev, poll finds”), and our state laws reflect that.

With all due respect for the difficult task the jurors are asked to do for us in the trial of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, because they’ve been selected from the minority of Massachusetts citizens who do sometimes support the death penalty, by design they will not speak for all the public. Will they be encouraged to remember the rest of us when they make their grave decision?

Jim Hammerman