Donald Trump’s campaign promise to address the opioid crisis combined with his love for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has added up to about what you’d expect: he reportedly has a proposal in the works recommending capital punishment for certain drug crimes. And Republicans are thrilled!
Duterte is perhaps most infamous for his extrajudicial killings of alleged drug dealers, a plan of action Trump has praised as an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.” Trump, for his part, has been toying with the idea of the death penalty for alleged drug dealers for at least a little while now. “If you shoot one person, they give you life, they give you the death penalty,” Trump said earlier this month at a White House summit on opioids, as reported by Politico. “These people can kill 2,000, 3,000 people and nothing happens to them.
“Some countries have a very, very tough penalty—the ultimate penalty—and by the way, they have much less of a drug problem than we do,” he continued.
But no, these were not just the murderous musings of a sun-downing grandpa. Politico reports that this is an official policy in the works: “According to language circulating this week, the Trump administration will call for the death penalty as an option in ‘certain cases where opioid, including Fentanyl-related, drug dealing and trafficking are directly responsible for death.’”
And some Republicans are.... into it?
According to the Weekly Standard, the idea went over well enough with Republicans in Congress on Thursday:
“If the president would support it, I am very open to hearing it,” House Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions told me.
Florida Republican Brian Mast didn’t take a position, but added, “There’s some reason in there, right?” If drug dealers are bringing people’s lives to an end on a mass scale, he surmised, then there should be room for such a debate.
Trump’s greatest death plan champion, New York’s very own Republican Rep. Chris Collins, stated that he is “all in on the capital punishment side for those offenses” and that he thinks “we need to have real consequences.”
And while making drug crimes punishable by death is a new level of vile draconian bullshit, the Trump administration isn’t alone in thinking, wrongly, that severe punishments will solve a public health crisis. A number of federal prosecutors have been pushing to charge drug dealers with murder after overdose deaths, particularly in places hit hard by the opioid crisis.
We don’t know yet if or how this plan will be implemented, but it should be noted that administering the death penalty is increasingly difficult these days, as more drug companies refuse to sell the necessary drugs for the lethal injection cocktail. Of course, where there’s a will there’s a way—as Oklahoma recently proved.