Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is the surviving of the two Boston Marathon Bombers. Tsarnaev's older brother, Tamerlan, who was very possibly an FBI informant, was believed to be the mastermind behind the attacks; however, he was killed during their escape from Cambridge, leaving Dzhokar to the standoff in Watertown and all subsequent legal matters.
Tsarnaev was initially given a death sentence for his role in the bombings, although that was overturned in August of 2020. He is currently serving a life sentence at the supermax Federal Correctional Complex Florence in Colorado.
But Associated Press now reports that he has sued the federal government for $250,000 over his treatment there, calling it "unlawful, unreasonable and discriminatory" in a handwritten suit filed Monday, January 11. He claims that he has been limited to only three showers per week, and that the prison guards confiscated a white baseball cap and bandana he had purchased at the prison commissary, all of which has contributed to his "mental and physical decline."
When the FBI first released photos of the Tsarnaev brothers, Dzhokhar was wearing a white hat, while his brother wore a black one. So it's not unreasonable that someone—like a prison guard—might interpret this as a bit of trolling on Tsarnaev's part. While prison showers are notoriously awful, 3 times a week is fairly common, for better or for worse. But the incarcerated people at ADX Florence are also typically confined to their concrete rooms for 23 hours a day—the kind of solitary confinement that can, indeed, contribute to mental and physical decline. As Bob Hood, a former warden at ADX Florence, told The Boston Herald, "I get it. He wants more than three showers a week. But he's twentysomething living in a 7-foot box where life is worse than if he did get the death penalty."
But incarcerated people still have rights, no matter how reprehensible they are. I live in Boston; I know people who were hurt or died that day. I think Tsarnaev deserved a life sentence (though I agree that he probably didn't get a fair trial with an impartial jury). At the same time, I don't think anyone deserves death, or cruel and unusual treatment while incarcerated.
Boston Marathon bomber sues over ballcap, showers in prison [Associated Press]
Image: Public Domain via FBI Archives and RicHard-59/Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 3.0)