TRUMP, LOW ON IDEAS, SEEKS DEATH PENALTY IN OPIOD CRISIS
President Donald Trump’s plan to combat opioid drug addiction nationwide calls for stiffer penalties for drug traffickers, including the death penalty where allowed under current law, a senior White House official said Sunday. It’s a fate for drug dealers that Trump, who aims to be seen as “tough on crime”, has been highlighting publicly after week upon week of staggeringly low approval ratings.
Trump’s uninformed and draconian position endangers much of the progress that has been painstakingly achieved in rolling back Regan-era penalties through the hard work of zealous anti-mandatory-minimum and civil liberty advocates. After moving so far in the right direction with Eric Holder under President Obama, the Department of Justice, led by Trump sycophant Jeff Sessions a/k/a “Mr. Magoo”, will now command federal prosecutors to seek the most punitive sentences allowed under the law.
Trump also wants Congress to pass legislation reducing the amount of drugs needed to trigger mandatory minimum sentences for traffickers who knowingly distribute certain illicit opioids, said Andrew Bremberg, Trump’s domestic policy director.
Many seasoned experts in law and criminal justice say this is exactly the wrong approach to take because it has already been statistically proven that longer sentences do not equal a reduction in crime and those sentences have devastating, long-term impacts on society, usually hitting hardest minorities like African-Americans and Latinos. Not to mention that it costs U.S. taxpayers over $30,000 a year to incarcerate a federal inmate. Suffice it to say, longer sentences are not the fiscally prudent choice either.
Death for drug traffickers and mandatory minimum penalties for distributing certain opioids are just two elements under the part of Trump’s plan that deals with law enforcement and interdiction to break the international and domestic flow of drugs into and across the U.S. Trump has mused openly in recent weeks about subjecting drug dealers to the “ultimate penalty” as if “life or death” were just the nightly consequences of his own demented game show.
The president told the audience at a Pennsylvania campaign rally this month that countries like Singapore have fewer issues with drug addiction because they harshly punish their dealers. He argued that a person in the U.S. can get the death penalty or life in prison for shooting one person, but that a drug dealer who potentially kills thousands can spend little or no time in jail. These statements prove that not only is the president awful at using analogies but that he will tell a bold-faced lie to make an erroneous point.
Using his characteristic first-grade vocabulary Trump generically stated “The only way to solve the drug problem is through toughness”. He made similar comments at a recent White House summit on opioids. “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,” Trump said. “So we’re going to have to be very strong on penalties.”
The Justice Department said the federal death penalty is available for several limited drug-related offenses, including violations of the “drug kingpin” provisions of federal law. However Doug Berman, a law professor at Ohio State University, said it was not clear that death sentences for drug dealers, even for those whose product causes multiple deaths, would be constitutional. Berman said the issue would be litigated extensively and would have to be definitively decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Opioids, including prescription opioids, heroin and synthetic drugs such as fentanyl, killed more than 42,000 people in the U.S. in 2016, more than any year on record, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Trump has declared that fighting the epidemic is a priority for the administration but critics say the effort has fallen short.
Last October, Trump declared the crisis a national public health emergency, short of the national state of emergency sought by a presidential commission he put together to study the issue. This lesser designation means less funding for substance abuse rehabilitation and mental health counseling. In fact, Trump wants to put more tax payer dollars into longer prison sentences thereby fattening the coffers of the private companies that profiteer off of lucrative no-bid contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
The opioid crisis, which is the center of ongoing concern and debate, is one of the most catastrophic health epidemics in the history of the United States. Millions of Americans are struggling with addiction to prescription painkillers and harder drugs. However, in many Tampa Bay area cases, this dependency began with legal drugs, like OxyCotin, prescribed by doctors to treat pain after a medical procedure or injuries sustained from an auto accident or slip and fall.
As a result of negligent prescription and marketing practices, the opioid epidemic now costs U.S. citizens and taxpayers billions of dollars a year. Now, individuals and government entities have begun fighting back by filing lawsuits against the doctors and pharmaceutical companies that contributed to this crisis.
Depending on the circumstances, The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. may be able to file a claim against the doctor who originally prescribed the opioids. We can investigate to determine if the physician took all proper precautions, such as checking your medical history. We also work with medical experts to determine whether the prescription was necessary to treat your condition.
Additionally, you may be able to file an opioid lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the medication. We can determine whether negligent or misleading marketing contributed to the situation that led to your condition. If so, then you may be entitled to compensation from the drug company as well as the prescribing doctor.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction or have lost a loved one due to prescription pill abuse, Nicholas G. Matassini and The Matassini Law Firm, P.A., a Tampa personal injury law firm, may be able to help you seek compensation for harm caused by the opioid epidemic.
Nicholas G. Matassini is also able to assist families with a loved one facing significant criminal charges because of an arrest for trafficking in a controlled substance (OxyContin, heroin, fentanyl, etc). Nicholas, based in Tampa, Florida is an AV Rated and Board Certified Criminal Trial Lawyer with vast federal and state criminal defense experience. Contact The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. today for a free confidential consultation.