Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a guidance memo to U.S. Attorneys “strongly” encouraging them to pursue the death penalty in drug-related prosecutions. The guidance memo comes only days after President Donald Trump unveiled the Initiative to Stop Opioids Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand.
The three-pronged strategy targets the factors identified as fueling the opioid crisis and includes a crack down on international and domestic illicit drug supply chains. It states “DOJ will seek the death penalty against drug traffickers, where appropriate under current law.”
Attorney General Sessions told U.S. Attorneys in the guidance memo that they should pursue capital punishment when appropriate. He listed specific statutes that include certain racketeering activities (18 U.S.C. § 1959); the use of a firearm resulting in death during a drug trafficking crime (18 U.S.C. § 924(j)); murder in furtherance of a continuing criminal enterprise (21 U.S.C. § 848(e)); and dealing in extremely large quantities of drugs (18 U.S.C. § 3591(b)(1)).
“Drug traffickers, transnational criminal organizations, and violent street gangs all contribute substantially to this scourge. To combat this deadly epidemic, federal prosecutors must consider every lawful tool at their disposal,” he wrote. “I strongly encourage federal prosecutors to use these statutes, when appropriate, to aid in our continuing fight against drug trafficking and the destruction it causes in our nation.”
The entire guidance memo can be found here.
The first prong of President Trump’s initiative includes various programs and plans to “educate Americans about the dangers of opioid and other drug use” in order “to curb over-prescription.” The second prong includes a crack down to cut off the supply of illicit drugs, which involves “seeking the death penalty against drug traffickers, where appropriate under current law.” The third prong includes numerous plans “to help those struggling with addiction through evidence-based treatment and recovery support services.”
Read more about the Initiative to Stop Opioids Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand, here.