Death penalty for drug charges are hollow threats

Gavel and a name plate with the engraving Death Penalty

By Alex Kerravala, Staff Writer

President Trump has, on multiple occasion and with different levels of subtlety, called for the ultimate solution to the War on Drugs: the death penalty for drug dealers. Now, while this would drastically reduce the number of drug dealers in the US, it’s hard to take this as a positive.

According to a Quinnipiac University study, roughly 75 percent of all voters, and roughly 60% of republican voters, are against the use of the death penalty for drug dealers.

On top of that, those surveyed were not biased against the death penalty as a whole, as more than half those surveyed supported the death penalty for convicted murderers.

Obviously the issue isn’t with the death penalty, it’s the fact that it is being used on a crime as insignificant as dealing drugs.

Now this isn’t just another one of President Trump’s fever dreams like The Wall or his inauguration turnout. The Attorney General has made it into policy, to the best extent he was able to.

What makes it even stranger is it is against Attorney General Sessions’ best interests to give drug offenders the death sentence, instead of longer prison sentences.

Sessions has a fairly large investment in the private prison industry, hence his actions to demonize marijuana, so the death sentence doesn’t make sense when compared to the rest of his character.

As for the penalty as a whole, what does this mean for the prison systems as we know it?

Will more prisoners face this harsh penalty?

Is The War on Drugs finally  over, with law enforcement essentially going nuclear?

To answer several complicated questions simply, no. It’s hard to believe any drug offenders will ultimately be sentenced to death. Just because the courts  can does not actually mean they will.

President Trump is not the one who gets the final say on what happens to the convicted drug dealers. Neither is Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The person with the final decision on what happens to drug offenders, or criminals of any kind, are the judges of their respective cases.

If found guilty a judge will be responsible for assigning sentences on the individual. Prison sentences for drug offenses are, on average, 71-87 months.

To have less than ten years skyrocket to death is just ridiculous. Yes, President Trump has done many ridiculous things, but this decision isn’t his to make.

While he and Attorney General Jeff Sessions may be able to set a maximum sentence, there is no way to assume any judge in their right mind would actually sentence a drug dealer to death.

Why make this the maximum, you ask? If there is no way a drug dealer will actually face the death penalty, why even make it an option?

Another series of questions with relatively simple answers. The only reason to make this policy is for show.

These ridiculous maximums are only as a scare tactic.

Now, if this is the case, I have to give Trump credit. If this actually works to scare off drug dealers and actually makes a dent in the War on Drugs, it may be the biggest victory in said war since its beginning.

Though, if none of the measures worked in the past, I find it doubtful that it will actually make an improvement. The War on Drugs has been a series of escalating threats since the 1980s, and seems to have reached a climax today.

Unfortunately, I can’t see this as any more of an improvement within the War on Drugs than any other increasing penalties. Average jail time for drug offenses since 1986 have only gone up, as have the number of opioid related deaths. Obviously increasing the penalty is not helping.

To achieve a real victory on the War on Drugs, the first plan of action must be to decriminalize marijuana.

According to the Center for Criminal and Juvenile Justice, once California decriminalized marijuana, violent deaths, drug related deaths, suicide, arrests for drug related crimes and school dropout rates all fell significantly.

Strangely enough, the biggest victory in the War on Drugs has been leaving certain drugs alone.

Photo Courtesy: My Jewish Learning

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