Dan Diamond at Politico has the scoop on the White House’s new plan to combat the opioid crisis, and there’s no getting around the headline: It includes the death penalty for “some drug dealers.” What could that possibly mean? Here’s Diamond:
According to language circulating this week, the Trump administration will call for the death penalty as an option in “certain cases where opioid, including Fentanyl-related, drug dealing and trafficking are directly responsible for death.”
That’s obviously the most sensational part of the policing side of the plan, but it’s certainly not the only harsh measure Trump is seeking to impose:
The White House plan also calls for making it easier to invoke the mandatory minimum sentence for drug traffickers who knowingly distribute illegal opioids that can be lethal, like fentanyl. It also proposes a new Justice Department task force known as “Prescription Interdiction and Litigation,” or PIL, which would be empowered to step up prosecutions of criminally negligent doctors, pharmacies and other providers.
The plan includes preventive measures as well, like treating new prisoners for opioid addiction, making access to care for Medicaid patients easier, increasing supplies of naxalone available to first responders, and limiting access to opoids in the first place. The idea is to reduce opioid use by a third within three years, but rough estimates indicate that it’s going to cost billions more than expected. It’s highly doubtful whether any of this actually gets through Congress, even without the part about giving dealers the electric chair.
The announcement of the new plan, Diamond reports, could come as soon as Monday.