Attorney General Jeff Sessions is officially recommending the use of the death penalty against drug dealers and smugglers, according to a Department of Justice memo released Wednesday.
In the memo issued to agency staff, Sessions supported President Trump’s call for using capital punishment as a way to help end the opioid crisis and deter drug dealers.
“I strongly encourage federal prosecutors to use these [death penalty] statutes, when appropriate, to aid in our continuing fight against drug trafficking and the destruction it causes in our nation,” Sessions said in the memo.
This new directive to DOJ staff comes only days after President Trump suggested using capital punishment against those caught dealing drugs.
“These people are killing our kids and killing our families, and we have to do something,” the president said while speaking at a rally in Pittsburgh.
Sessions apparently took the President’s suggestion as an order in directing his attorneys to consider advocating for capital punishment in cases where racketeering, firearm use, murder and dealing “extremely large quantities of drugs” are involved.
The memo encourages U.S. attorneys to use every tool available to prosecute “drug traffickers, transnational criminal organizations, and violent street gangs,” in order to end the opioid crisis. In the memo, the attorney general notes that illegal drugs took the lives of 64,000 Americans in 2016.
“In the face of all of this death, we cannot continue with business as usual,” Sessions said.