The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that roughly 91 Americans die each day from an opioid overdose, whether through the use of prescription pills or heroin, and the CDC ’s provisional numbers on overdose deaths report that more than 64,000 people lost their lives to drug overdoses in 2016. And President Donald Trump feels the best way to address this complex issue by suggesting that opioid dealers receive the death penalty, essentially equating dealing in legal, but illicit by technicality, drugs to murder.
It’s quite obvious that America has an opioid problem and, judging by his horrifically ignorant death penalty suggestion, it’s even more obvious he’s totally incapable of addressing this extremely complex issue. Before even attempting to ruthlessly rip our sociopathic president’s monumentally appalling idea, it’s important to note what a farce the war on drugs has been.
For decades, politicians who endorse drug prohibition claim that such policies reduce drug-related crime, decrease drug-related disease and overdose and are an effective means of breaking up criminal drug empires.
Newsflash: they don’t and it’s embarrassingly apparent.
There are several reasons why the war on drugs has failed, but it’s the greatest failure has been targeting the user rather than the drugs themselves. More specifically, imposing tough sentences for small infractions on impoverished kids and adults in urban communities, thereby leading to overcrowded prisons and swelling profits for the private builders of prisons.
The profit motive in tossing anyone in prison for the tiniest of drug infractions is so strong that is has led to corruption at the highest levels. For example, one Pennsylvania judge got a life sentence after it was discovered he was involved in a prison kickback scheme.
Mark Kleiman, who leads the crime and justice program at New York University’s Marron Institute of Urban Management:
“We have done the experiment with extreme mass incarceration to shrink the drug market and it failed.”
Between 1980 and today, the number of drug dealers behind bars has gone up by a factor of 30 and the prices of heroin and cocaine have fallen more than 90 percent. So the problem with putting drug dealers in prison is there is another drug dealer in there to take his place.”
Even Trump’s ally and former Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie understood the severity of the opioid endemic and imploring effective and human means at combating it. Christie even made fighting opioids one of his signature policy issues in the final year of his tenure.
Something has to be done and it certainly isn’t the death penalty.
Featured image via YouTube video.