Trump pushes drug-dealer death penalty as opioid crisis response

DOJ plans to seek death penalty in drug overdose cases when 'appropriate'

The president formalized what he had long mused about publicly and privately: that if a person in the US can get the death penalty or life in prison for shooting one person, a similar punishment should be given to a drug dealer who potentially kills thousands.

MANCHESTER, N.H. -Unveiling a long-awaited plan to combat the national scourge of opioid drug addiction, President Donald Trump called Monday for stiffer penalties for drug traffickers, including embracing a tactic employed by some of the global strongmen he admires: the death penalty.

Trump has vowed since his election to tackle rising drug prices.

He said: 'Some of these drug dealers will kill thousands of people during their lifetime.

Fergus Cullen, a former chairman of the New Hampshire Republican State Committee, told The Telegraph he believed it was "inevitable" Mr Trump would face a 2020 primary challenge.

"What Trump is pushing for is only going to make (the opioid crisis) worse", said Sánchez-Moreno.

The White House has begun to call it the crisis next door, creating a website by the same name where people can share their personal stories dealing with opioids. He is expected to announce his plans to toughen law enforcement and drug interception, increase funding for prevention and education, and improve the ability to fund treatment through the federal government, according to Andrew Bremberg, director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.

The president made his announcement in New Hampshire, a state hit hard by opioids and an early marker for the re-election campaign he has already announced.

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Trump has expressed his preference of the "ultimate penalty" for some drug traffickers in recent speeches, but this would be the first time the idea becomes part of an official plan.

Dr Harold Pollack, an urban public health professor at the University of Chicago, said: "I don't think the death penalty for drug dealers will accomplish very much". A cornerstone of his plan would make drug trafficking that results in fatal overdoses a crime punishable by death. However, in November, the White House opioid commission also released a strong plan, most of which hasn't been acted on yet, and it is critical that we see actual follow-through on this proposal. After one standing ovation, he said with an even wider grin: "A lot of voters in this room".

"We can't incarcerate ourselves out of this crisis", said Gupta. "We have got to get tough". Opioids includes illegal drugs such as heroin or fentanyl, as well as legal prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, and morphine.

The administration was criticized for not doing enough after declaring a public health emergency five months ago. "The Supreme Court has repeatedly and consistently rejected the use of the death penalty in cases where there has been no murder by the convicted individual".

"We call it the crisis next door because everyone knows someone", said Kellyanne Conway, a Trump senior adviser. "The constant message I hear in New Hampshire from law enforcement, treatment providers, the recovery community, and others is that we can not arrest our way out of this crisis".

President Trump signs opioid-related legislation. "This is no longer somebody else's community, somebody else's kid, somebody else's co-worker". The administration also wants to cut opioid prescriptions by one-third nationwide.

The trip was Trump's first to the nation's first primary state since the 2016 election.

Trump has declared that fighting the epidemic is a priority for the administration, but critics say the effort has fallen short. Flake told New Hampshire Republicans that someone needs to stop Trump - and it could be him if no one else steps up.

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