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The President's Perplexing Plan to Punish People Pushing Prescription Painkillers

Robert Franklin

Posted on April 26, 2018 14:16

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How to combat the Opioid Crisis? If you're President Donald Trump, killing all the people peddling opioids is suddenly an option.

 To combat the Opioid Crisis in the United States, President Trump has proposed handing out death penalty convictions to drug traffickers, because nothing says being tough on crime like widening the world's leading capital punishment highway system.

It makes sense that Donald Trump -- the self-described "law-and-order-candidate"-turned-retribution-obsessed President -- would bring a bastardized version of lex talionis into the White House and apply it to something like drug traffickers. This president isn't known for philosophical or ideological consistency, or even really for basic proficiency in either one.

Over the course of his campaign and first fifteen months as president, Trump has demonstrated he possesses a fierce approach to law and order, at least when it doesn't involve him or his merry-go-round of politically-clueless, money-grubbing BFF's. He's brandished torches and pitchforks with the "white power" mobs who adulate him, railing against things like immigration, demonstrators, and Hillary Clinton's emails with the same fervor as Gaston going after the Beast. But in the process, he has only made about as much sense in doing so as the residents of South Park, Colorado shouting "Rabble! Rabble! Rabble!" at the town's mayor.

President Trump's advocacy for the death penalty as an option for drug traffickers has been on-going, saying during a panel discussion at the March 22, 2018 Generation Next Summit:

"These people [drug dealers] kill thousands of people over the course of their lives with drugs. So we're going to have to get much, much tougher in terms of penalty. And if you want to stop it -- if you look at certain countries where they have, as an example, the death penalty, and say, 'How's your drug problem?' And they will tell you, 'We don't have much of a drug problem.'"

No precedent exists in American law for sentencing a drug trafficker to death strictly as it relates to drug trafficking. Furthermore, such a penalty for this kind of crime may not pass legal scrutiny. In a 2008 Supreme Court decision, Kennedy v. Louisiana, the High Court ruled that Patrick Kennedy's Eighth Amendment rights were violated when he was given a death sentence for raping his eight-year-old step-daughter. The majority stated that the sentence constituted "cruel and unusual punishment" because the girl had not died as a result of the rape (and because national opinion did not conform to the sentence), further noting that "the death penalty should not be expanded to instances where the victim's life was not taken."

Further, there isn't really any evidence to support that the threat of capital punishment deters anything, so the President can't use that as a point of justification, though he absolutely will try. 

Beyond all of this, though, is the ideological inconsistency of it. Sure, President Trump is content going after and executing his definition of a drug trafficker, but when it comes to the opioid crisis, the traffickers are also doctors and pharmaceutical companies. Will they be executed too?

Robert Franklin

Posted on April 26, 2018 14:16

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Source: WashPost

“These people [drug dealers] kill thousands of people over the course of their lives through drugs. So we’re going...

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