Watch CBS News

Boston Marathon Bomber Sues Over Treatment In Prison

BOSTON (CBS/AP) - Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has filed a lawsuit over his treatment at a supermax prison.

The hand-written complaint, originally filed in January, was amended March 5. Among other things, Tsarnaev claims the defendants – which include BOP, the company that administers the prison and Attorney General Merrick Garland – are interfering with his ability to communicate with his family, placing a hold on his money and hurting his chances of avoiding a death sentence.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and his older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, carried out the Boston Marathon Bombing on April 15, 2013. Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, died following a gunfight with police and being run over by his brother as he fled. Police captured a bloodied and wounded Dzhokhar Tsarnaev hours later in the Boston suburb of Watertown, where he was hiding in a boat parked in a backyard.

Tsarnaev, now 27, was convicted of all 30 charges against him, including conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction and the killing of an MIT police officer during the Tsarnaev brothers' getaway attempt.

A federal appeals court threw out Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's death sentence, saying the judge who oversaw the case did not adequately screen jurors for potential biases.

A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a new penalty-phase trial on whether the 27-year-old Tsarnaev should be executed.

Tsarnaev says the defendants are violating his First Amendment rights and interfering with his chance to avoid the death penalty by not allowing him to send hobby crafts through the mail to his legal counsel. This constructive behavior, he claimed in the filing, could provide mitigating evidence as prosecutors seek to have the death penalty reinstated. He said the restrictions also interfere with the development of a relationship between him and his defending counsel.

Since 2013, Tsarnaev has been subject to special administrative measures (SAMs) due to his "proclivity to violence," which may restrict privileges in prison. SAMs must be reviewed and renewed each year.

Tsarnaev claims he has been not been permitted to send photographs to his family since 2019 and that due to the restrictions, "I am suffering psychological injury, emotional distress and destruction of my familial relationships."

He also claimed he is allowed to have visits with his nieces and nephews but is not allowed to call or write to them, which he said is cruel and unusual punishment. He is allowed to speak to his parents and sisters by phone twice a month.

He said he was issued a face mask due to the COVID-19 pandemic and was reported when the face mask was missing a metal nosepiece. Tsarnaev said the mask was manufactured without the nosepiece and inclusion of the incident as a reason for special administrative measures violated his Fifth Amendment right to due process.

"As a result of the imposition of the SAMs restrictions, I have experienced continued, extreme, and unjustifiable difficulties communicating and corresponding with family members and attorneys," he wrote.

Tsarnaev also said that on March 1 an administrative hold was placed on about $2,300 in his account. He said the money was made unavailable because it was sent to him by people not approved in the SAMs.

He also claimed that his property – a white baseball cap and a bandana purchased from the commissary – were seized as contraband.

Tsarnaev said he has been in a restrictive unit of the prison since 2015 and has been denied having the restrictions relaxed.

Killed in the 2013 bombing were Lingzi Lu, a 23-year-old Boston University graduate student from China; Krystle Campbell, a 29-year-old restaurant manager from Medford; and 8-year-old Martin Richard, who had gone to watch the marathon with his family. Massachusetts Institute of Technology police Officer Sean Collier was shot to death in his cruiser days later.

(© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.