Prison Fellowship President James Ackerman has voiced concern with President Donald Trump’s new plan to impose the death penalty on drug traffickers when it is appropriate to do so under current law.
After Trump officially rolled out on Monday a three-part plan to tackle the opioid epidemic that includes a call for capital punishment for certain drug traffickers considered to be “big pushers,” a number of critics have railed against the idea.
Included among the critics is Ackerman, who has been among evangelical leaders involved in meetings with senior Trump White House staff on criminal justice reform in the past year.
“It doesn’t make any sense to me at all, to be perfectly frank,” Ackerman told The Christian Post Monday night following Prison Fellowship’s bipartisan panel discussion on prison re-entry reform held at the Museum of the Bible.
Ackerman, who worked for years as an entertainment executive and was selected in 2016 to serve as the head of the national evangelical prison ministry founded by Chuck Colson, argued that executing drug dealers would be similar to punishing gun manufacturers for the murders committed by those who buy the guns.
“You cannot convict, unless the drugs themselves are laced with something that caused murder,” Ackerman explained. “You cannot convict somebody’s misuse of drugs that they purchased in an illegal market.”
Although Ackerman believes that courts should judge drug dealers by the nature and amount of the drugs they sell, the idea of sentencing traffickers to death is a bit extreme to him.
“The death penalty being issued for people who are dealers of drugs makes no sense to me,” Ackerman said.
CNN on Tuesday quoted senior White House officials as saying that the administration will not be waiting for Congress to propose legislation on the death penalty and that the Justice Department is already “examining to move ahead with [the plan] to make sure that’s done appropriately.”
Although the official declined to give an example of situations in which death penalty could be sought in drug trafficking cases, the official explained that there are obvious “instances where that would be appropriate.”
The White House proposal is an attempt to curb the ongoing opioid epidemic, which has taken the lives of more than 500,000 people since 2000 and 64,000 in 2016, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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Source: Christian Post