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Trump’s Most Terrifying Temper Tantrum: Death Penalty for Drug Dealers Is Beyond the Pale

March 12, 2018 in Economics

By Jeffrey A. Singer

Jeffrey A. Singer

As President Trump made
abundantly clear
in recent news conferences and interviews, he
sees the zero-tolerance policy on drug use and drug dealing of
Singapore, China and the Philippines as a model for U.S. drug
policy. He is said to believe that all drug dealers should get the
death penalty.

President Trump’s anti-drug advisor, Kellyanne Conway,
reassures us the president plans a more “nuanced”
approach, focused on raising mandatory minimum sentences for drug
dealing. There are also undeveloped proposals to “get tough
on pharmaceutical companies.”

The president’s frustration with the failure of
America’s longest war, the war on drugs, is understandable.
But the solution should not be to try more of the same, only

Trump’s authoritarian
impulse is alive and well, according to his recent enthusiasm to
expand the death penalty.

Sensible drug policy makes it easier for drug abusers to kick
the habit and transition back to a normal life, rather than ruining
their lives through long-term incarceration — or ending them
altogether through capital punishment. The
has never supported the contention that the death
penalty is a greater deterrent to crime than incarceration. And a
from the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition
points to a large body of evidence that the incarceration and
incapacitation of drug dealers has not deterred drug use or
distribution and may, in fact, contribute to an increase in violent

Drug offenses can merit the death penalty in
over 30 countries
but, perhaps in recognition of the futility
of the death penalty, many of them are turning away from it.
its mandatory death penalty laws in 2012, returning
some discretion to the courts to allow for life imprisonment, with
caning as an alternative. The majority of executions in Iran have
been for drug-related crimes, although in 2016 a senior Iranian
judiciary official
, “The truth is, the execution of drug
smugglers has had no deterrent effect.” Later that year,
Iran’s parliament
the death penalty for many drug crimes and replaced it
with incarceration or fines.

President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines asked the
legislature to restore the death penalty (repealed in 2006) for
drug dealers, and in February of last year the House of
the change. The bill is stalled in the Senate.
Nevertheless, extrajudicial killings have been rampant under
Duterte’s leadership. More than 4,000 suspected drug dealers
have been killed by police who have claimed to be acting in
self-defense during raids and sting operations.

By contrast, Portugal decriminalized all drugs in 2001. The

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Source: OP-EDS

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