Trump Includes Death Penalty for Drug Dealers in Plan to Fight Opioid Crisis

Trump
President Trump this week announced new plans to fight the opioid crisis, including a proposal to seek the death penalty for drug dealers, NBC News reports. The plans also include launching a nationwide campaign to raise public awareness about the dangers of prescription and illicit opioid use, as well as other drug use, according to a White House fact sheet. Trump called for increased border security to combat the flow of drugs into the United States. The opioid initiative will “support research and development efforts for innovative technologies and additional therapies designed to prevent addiction and decrease the use of opioids in pain management,” according to the statement.
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White House Considers Allowing Prosecutors to Seek Death Penalty for Drug Dealers

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The Trump Administration is considering allowing prosecutors to seek the death penalty for drug dealers, The Washington Post reports. One approach under consideration would make trafficking large amounts of fentanyl a capital crime. Officials are also studying tougher punishments for large-scale drug dealers that stop short of the death penalty. At the recent White House summit on opioids, President Trump suggested executing drug dealers might help solve the opioid crisis. “Some countries have a very tough penalty, the ultimate penalty, and they have much less of a drug problem than we do,” Trump said during the summit. Allowing the death penalty for drug dealers could have unintended effects, said Daniel Ciccarone, Professor of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco. “It will keep people from any positive interface with police, any positive interface with public health, any interface with doctors,” he said, adding it could...
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Many Drug Dealers Test Strength of Synthetic Opioids on Customers

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Many drug dealers use their customers to test the strength of the synthetic opioids they sell, the Associated Press reports. They want the drugs to be strong enough to keep their customers coming back, but not strong enough to kill them. Local dealers take fentanyl made in Chinese labs and use powders such as baby formula to increase its volume and street value. “It is sick and awful that dealers are treating people this way,” said Bradley Ray, Director of the Center for Criminal Justice Research at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis, who studies overdose prevention. “It is sad that things have come to this. (Testers’) addictions will push them to take that; they’re not thinking clearly.”
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Prosecutors Fighting Opioids with Homicide-Related Charges Against Drug Dealers

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Some prosecutors are trying to fight the opioid epidemic with homicide-related charges against drug dealers in cases involving overdoses, The New York Times reports. These cases are difficult, prosecutors told the newspaper. They must use toxicology reports to tie medical evidence about the drugs to the fatal overdose. They also have to present evidence that a dealer knew the drugs’ risks but provided them anyway, which is hard to prove. Dealers’ lawyers argue their clients want to keep customers alive because it is good for business. Juries in these cases must determine whether drug dealers are predators or are addicted to drugs themselves. They also must decide if a dealer should be held responsible for the death of a person who took drugs they knew were dangerous.
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