WASHINGTON – Congressman Tom Reed (R-Corning, NY 23) is again backing President Donald Trump, this time in regards to stricter punishment – including the death penalty – for those who are involved with drug trafficking that ends up taking the life of another person.
In response to President Trump’s recent announcement on opioids, Reed stressed his support for strengthening criminal penalties for dealing and trafficking in fentanyl and other opioids. Reed’s legislation, the Help Ensure Lives are Protected (HELP) Act, would accomplish this objective.
“Victims of overdose and their loved ones deserve justice. The opioid epidemic is plaguing our communities and killing far too many of our young people. The HELP act will give the law enforcement community more authority and new options to put a stop to this problem,” Reed stated in a media release sent out Monday afternoon.
According to Reed, the HELP Act would allow federal prosecutors access to more severe penalties, including life in prison or the death penalty, when prosecuting certain criminal drug cases. The penalties would apply in the event prosecutors connect an overdose death to the drug dealer that sold heroin laced with fentanyl.
On Monday, the president announced a new initiative to stop opioid abuse which will seek the death penalty in certain cases for drug traffickers. It would also reduce the threshold amount for mandatory minimum sentences for drug traffickers, while also addressing education, treatment and recovery support services.
During his weekly conference call with media on Tuesday, Reed reiterated his statement from a day earlier, saying that he supports the president’s call for harsher penalties against drug dealers.
WRFA also asked Reed if he also supported stricter enforcement when it comes to going after the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture opioids as prescription pain killer medications, with some having worked to get doctors to over-prescribe the drugs, leading to a wave of opioid addiction across the country.
“We just can’t leave it at law enforcement. When you look at the pharmaceutical companies that are abusing their situation for potentially financial gain, the ones that are manipulating and saturating the opioid supply through initiatives coming out of their operations, they need to be held accountable also,” Reed said. “So I think that is a legitimate additional tool that needs to be in the tool box to go after, as well as the other tools.”
While Reed said he supports going after drug manufacturers, it’s not covered in the legislation he is supporting, which is known as the Help Ensure Lives are Protected or “HELP” Act. However, the proposal does call for stricter penalties for drug traffickers.
Reed said he’s also willing to support the recent effort calling on a portion of the local money and assets seized from drug raids to be used to help with rehab and recovery. When asked if it’s something that could also be proposed at the federal level, he said it’s something to look into.
“I appreciate folks bringing that kind of common-sense proposal forward from the front line, to the attention of the elected officials and those who can implement that kind of solution. We’ll bring that back to the federal level and that is something we can be supportive of,” Reed said.