USA: Drug Dealers & Death Penalty

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Donald Trump calls for drug dealers to face death penalty

Mar 11, 2018

Donald Trump has called for drug dealers to face the death penalty in a bid to tackle the opioid epidemic ravaging the United States.

In a speech on Sunday (AEST), Mr Trump argued America should adopt similar drug policies to those in Singapore, where he claimed there was “no problem”.

The President, who announced a 90-day public health emergency in October, said he had been impressed by the Asian nation’s approach during discussions with Singaporean officials.

“These guys don’t play games,” Mr Trump told a rally in Pennsylvania.

“I said, ‘How are you doing on drugs?’ ‘No problem’. I said, ‘What do you mean no problem?’ ‘That means if we catch a drug dealer, death penalty’.

“And they don’t have a problem.”

Mr Trump argued that in the US, people convicted of murder often received a life sentence or the death penalty, but drug dealers did not, despite killing “thousands of people”.

“I don’t know if you’re ready. I don’t know if this country’s ready for it, but I think … it’s a discussion we have to start thinking about.”

Though Mr Trump’s remarks on Sunday were not scripted, he also suggested executing drug dealers earlier in the month.

And the Trump administration is said to be examining policy changes that would allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty, according to The Washington Post.

Last year, a United Nations study found the US led the world for drug overdose deaths. It had 27 per cent of all fatalities, but only 4 per cent of the world population.

Meanwhile, a third of all drug overdose victims in 2016 had taken synthetic opioids like fentanyl, according to the National Institute for Drug Abuse.

Singapore has among the lowest rates of drug abuse in the world, but its drug policies are often described by critics as draconian.

The country imposes a mandatory death penalty on a person carrying a specified quantity — for example at least 500 grams of cannabis, 30 grams of cocaine or 250 grams of methamphetamine.

The burden of proof also falls on the defendant, rather than the authorities.

It means anyone who owns a car or house where drugs are found is presumed to have possessed them, while a person can also be arrested merely for being in the presence of drug users.

Critics of Mr Trump’s call have suggested capital punishment could drive drug users further underground and could lead to fewer people seeking treatment.

Public health experts have urged the government to provide more funding for cash-strapped treatment centres in the worst-hit states, such as West Virginia.

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