The death penalty for drug traffickers: Are you for or against it?

By Ashley Mott, Senior Graphic Design major, Arts and Entertainment editor

There has been a recent debate on whether or not drug trafficking should be punishable with the death penalty, and while I can definitely see both sides of the coin on this topic, for the sake of this argument, let me play devil’s advocate. As a girl who grew up in a small town where the number of deaths were large because of drugs that were spiked with other drugs, laced with poison or sold in doses that could cause death, this topic hits home a little harder for me.

I know that drugs are a choice and you choose it every time you do them; I won’t argue with that. However, it is an addiction; it’s something that is classified in the DSM-5 with one of the main symptoms being impaired control, or the craving to use a substance and the desire and failed attempt to cut down or get off the drug on your own.

With that acknowledgement out of the way, let me explain why I think the role that drug traffickers, specifically a Kingpin, play in the deaths of thousands of people is punishable with the death penalty. The first thing that should be noted is that in many states, drug use, possession, distribution, manufacturing and trafficking are all considered a felony.

Now, there are two things that could follow after drugs are released into the public. There can be charges of involuntary manslaughter or first degree murder.

Involuntary manslaughter would usually relate to a pawn or someone doing the dirty work. Do I think that they should get the death penalty? No, because there are accidents that happen every day where there was no malice intent.

However, the intention to spike the drugs that would cause death is intentional murder, or at least first-degree murder. In most states, first-degree murder is chargeable with life imprisonment and death row.  If this is a process that can already occur when the evidence is provided, and our legal system allows it, then there shouldn’t be this huge debate about it.

Kingpins who intentionally spike drugs and cause deaths everywhere, those are the people who can be convicted of first-degree murder. If it’s already possible to do so, then those arguing against the possibility of this law are in for a rude awakening.

I may not agree with the possibility of this law to the full extent. However, that doesn’t shut down the fact that it is already possible to try a drug trafficker with first-degree murder, with enough evidence, to be able to enact the death penalty. It is only a matter of time before it becomes easier to try them, and honestly, getting the people behind the drugs off the streets makes it harder for people to get them.

Drugs have been a hot topic for years. There has always been this “war on drugs.” Even if you don’t agree with the death penalty, you have to admit the possibility of increased punishment may be enough to keep people off the streets and lower the drug use in our population.

It may be naive to think that way, but if there’s one thing that is a basic human instinct, it’s survival. Even the threat of this new rule coming into the public eye is enough to make someone who is all about self-preservation think twice before continuing an illegal and deadly business.

There may already be ways to have the death penalty enacted, but they aren’t always known.

This law is one that could put that warning to the forefront of people’s minds.

Originally Published on The Cauldron. Read the full debate here.

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