Consider death penalty for dealers

Published 12:02 am Sunday, October 30, 2016

Democrats may not like building a wall to choke the flow of drugs into the country, but the blue state of Delaware is considering a get-tough policy for those whose products result in their victims’ deaths.

Democrat State Attorney General Matt Denn supports the bipartisan sponsorship of a bill that would create the new crime of “Drug dealing resulting in death.”

Denn admits prosecution of such a crime might be challenging, and would face an array of challenges by a drug dealer’s lawyers.

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You see, the drug dealer who sells heroin may not be the one who actually mixed in the deadly fentanyl, which is blamed for thousands of deaths each year. It’s also possible a drug user may have another drug in his or her system that contributed to their death.

The fact remains that the drug dealer is the defendant, his victim is dead and this law gives prosecutors a tool they need to add up to twenty years onto any guilty dealer’s sentence.

So isn’t it surprising that it’s the ruling party of the Democrats reacting to the heroin epidemic with tougher laws?

It’s an interesting direction in a blue state dominated by Democrats. The tougher laws also fly against a recent ruling by State Supreme Court Judges that Delaware’s death penalty law was unconstitutional.

Wouldn’t drug-induced murders be worthy of the death penalty? What about the murders of minors?

Delawareans are already conflicted enough on the issue of the death penalty itself.

A 2015 poll found 63 percent of Delawareans support the death penalty while 64 percent prefer life sentencing over the death penalty.

You can imagine that interview, right?

Pollster: “Which do you prefer, the death penalty or a life sentence?”

Johnny OnThePhone: (Thinking to himself) “Oh, I much prefer life.”

Pollster:”Do you support the death penalty?

Johnny:”I sure do!” (As long as it isn’t ME.)

Why wouldn’t it already be a felony to sell illegal drugs to someone who dies due to the illegal drugs? Why wouldn’t it be homicide?

The rural yet bucolic paradise of Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, more known for its beautiful state forests than urban ills, proves the heroin epidemic crosses all borders.

Last March, Lycoming Coroner Charles E. Kiessling, declared all heroin overdose deaths will now on be considered homicides.

Unfortunately, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association didn’t like it.

“A coroner’s opinion on the manner of death is not binding on police.It is part of the information law enforcement considers in determining if a crime was committed and can someone be charged with it,” said Richard Long, executive director.

Coroner Kiessling is actually behind the curve, as is Delaware.

Oregon reportedly leads the country with this strategy, which is to tell everyone they can find in the supply chain that if they don’t tell them where they got the drugs, they’re the one to be prosecuted for the overdose death.

In Pittsburgh, five men were prosecuted last year for dealing drugs to three people who died from overdoses.

Though most of these types of prosecutions are federal, Delaware might be catching up to some other states such as Michigan, where the death of a drug user can mean a life sentence for the dealer, Wisconsin (first-degree “drug delivery reckless homicide”) and New Hampshire, where providing a drug that kills someone is now second degree murder.

Is it too much to ask for juries and judges to be allowed to consider the death penalty for drug dealers convicted of murder?

And what about providing heroin to a minor who survives?

After all, the youngster is now sentenced to either fueling or fighting a lifetime addiction.


Rick Jensen is Delaware’s award-winning conservative talk show host on WDEL, streaming live on from 1-4 p.m. EST. Contact Rick at