President Donald Trump pressed again for the "maximum punishment" for drug traffickers on Wednesday and spoke poignantly about his late brother Fred's battle with substance abuse.
Trump said he fears that the crisis of opioids in the United States will not be resolved until the punishment is stronger and stronger. for the traffickers.
He brought Fred and said he was a "great guy" who had "great potential" before his death. He remembered him fondly as the "most beautiful person": "I have to admit that he was much better looking than me".
However, alcohol abuse "really destroyed his life", recalled the president and it was "really hard" & # 39; for his family.
He used personal tragedy as a launching pad for the discussion on opioid abuse, of which he said that 134 people died per day.
President Donald Trump pressed again for the "maximum punishment" for drug traffickers on Wednesday and spoke poignantly about his late brother Fred's battle with substance abuse
When asked later if he was using the problem to increase his sympathy, Trump said: "I'm not doing anything for the polls." I do it to do the right thing. I am here for a prolonged period of time. I am here for a period that is very important. And we are straightening this country. "
"And one of the most important things we want to correct is what the people in the room represent, it's drug abuse and alcohol abuse and all the problems."
Trump has advocated "really, very powerful penalties, led by the death penalty, for the real bad traffickers" in the past, even in March.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions endorsed him and advised federal prosecutors in a memo on how to do it.
In a memo, Sessions wrote that "federal prosecutors must consider all legal tools at their disposal," and the list should include "prosecution of the death penalty in appropriate cases."
The attorney general also offered his 93 US attorneys. UU A list of federal statutes that can be invoked to be done.
At an event in New Hampshire the day before, President Trump threw the glove at the narcotics bosses.
"We will find him, we will arrest him and we will hold him responsible," he said.
Trump predicted failure in his new war on drugs unless the United States adopts "really, very powerful sanctions, led by the death penalty, for really bad traffickers."
Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote to federal prosecutors a day after he heard President Donald Trump urge death sentences for some drug dealers, telling them how to justify it
"Some of these drug dealers will kill thousands of people during their lives … and they will catch them, and they will take them to 30 days in jail, or they will leave for a year, or they will fine them," the president said.
However, "if you kill a person, you get the death penalty or you go for life."
Unless that unbalanced equation is corrected, he said, "we're just doing the wrong thing." We have to get difficult. "
The memorandum of sessions listed possible crimes eligible for the death penalty, including "certain organized crime activities", the use of a firearm resulting in death during a drug trafficking offense, the "murder in development of a criminal enterprise continues "and" trading in extremely large quantities "of drugs. & # 39;
Presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway told reporters aboard Air Force One that everything the Justice Department was proposing would apply to "narcotics traffickers." This is high level, very specific cases. "
A senior administration official also said during a conference call with journalists that the Justice Department would only seek such a penalty to the extent that it is allowed "under the current law."
This photo shows the stretcher in the death chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary; the federal government uses a similar facility for the rare occasions when a convict executes
The note of the sessions describes four specific federal crimes of the death penalty that drug traffickers can be accused of
The American Civil Liberties Union objected loudly to Jesselyn McCurdy, deputy director of its legislative office in Washington, condemning Trump for endorsing "draconian provisions for law enforcement."
Convicted by a cartel: In 2001, the federal government executed Juan Raúl Garza for killing three people in the course of carrying a network of marijuana smuggling.
McCurdy said in a statement that the death penalty for drug traffickers would be "unconstitutional and absurd."
"Drug trafficking is not a crime for which someone can receive the death penalty." The Supreme Court has consistently and consistently rejected the use of the death penalty in cases where there has been no murder by the person condemned, "he said.
The United States did not execute a federal prisoner since 2003, when Louis Jones was executed for the kidnapping and murder of a 19-year-old army soldier.
The Oklahoma City terrorist, Timothy McVeigh, received the final punishment in 2001 for his crime that killed 168 people.
Only a week later, Juan Raúl Garza was executed for killing three people in the course of running a marijuana smuggling ring.
That case will allow the White House to argue that Trump is not forging a new legal territory by asking for more like this.
The US government UU He declared a moratorium on executions from 1970 to 1988. But McVeigh & # 39; s was the first in the federal system since 1963.
Apart from Garza, the only other federal convicts executed for their crimes since 1963 were the kidnap killer Louis Jones (left) and the Oklahoma City terrorist Timothy McVeigh (right)
The Trump administration has an initiative to lessen the impact of opioid addiction and the overdose epidemic in the United States, especially with the new criminal justice tools unleashed against traffickers of deadly substances such as fentanyl.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, there are currently 61 federal prisoners awaiting execution on death row, most of them in a prison in Terre Haute, Indiana.
They include Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted of bombing the Boston Marathon in 2013.
His case, like that of others sentenced to death, was unusual. About 70% of federal juries in death penalty cases impose life imprisonment.