President Donald Trump will roll out a set of proposals to address the opioid epidemic on Monday that includes death sentences for some drug dealers, according to Andrew Bremberg, the director of the White House Domestic Policy Council.
The president will lay out his comprehensive plan during a speech in New Hampshire, the epicenter of his administration’s battle against opioids and the state where Trump learned about the epidemic.
The plan has four pillars: law enforcement and interdiction, a large scale educational advertisement campaign focused on prevention, improving the government’s ability to fund treatment, and helping people find jobs while fighting addiction, CNN reported, citing Bremberg and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway.
Trump has previously spoken about the death penalty for certain drug traffickers and recently highlighted it during a rally in Pennsylvania.
“A drug dealer will kill 2,000, 3,000, 5,000 people during the course of his or her life,” Trump said.
“Thousands of people are killed or their lives are destroyed, their families are destroyed. So you can kill thousands of people and go to jail for 30 days,” he added. “They catch a drug dealer, they don’t even put them in jail.”
The number of Americans dying from drug overdoses quadrupled since 1999, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An average of 173 people a day died from overdoses in 2016.
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Trump pushed Congress to secure $6 billion in funds to address the opioid epidemic. Monday’s speech will outline how the money will be spent to turn the deadly tide.
Stiff penalties, including capital punishment, would be reserved for the high-intensity dealers and traffickers, not minor offenders, according to a senior administration official.
“The President thinks that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime,” the official said regarding offenders who “are growing pot in the backyard or a friend who has a low-level possession crime,” according to CNN.
“His plan will address, and he will address, the stiffening of penalties for the people who are bringing the poison into our communities,” the official said.
Conway led the White House effort to draft the plan. The work involved several agencies, including the departments of State, Labor, and Housing and Urban Development.
“We call it the ‘crisis next door’ because everyone knows someone,” Conway said on Sunday, according to CNN. “It is no longer somebody else’s community, somebody else’s kid, somebody else’s co-worker. The opioid crisis is viewed by us at the White House as a nonpartisan problem searching for a bipartisan solution.”