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The Death Penalty Is Never an Appropriate Response to a Public Health Crisis

WASHINGTON - Responding to comments made by President Donald Trump on the use of the death penalty as a means to address the opioid crisis, Amnesty International’s Senior Program Officer for Criminal Justice, Kristina Roth stated:

“We are stunned to learn of the administration’s plans use the death penalty to address the United States’ opioid crisis. The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. All people have the right to life, and we all have the right to be free from cruel, inhuman, or degrading punishment. These are basic human rights that people have, regardless of whether they have been convicted of crimes. The death penalty is never an appropriate option in any circumstance, let alone when responding to a public health crisis.

“There is no evidence that the death penalty deters crime, improves public safety, or prevents addiction. The death penalty will not lower deaths from opioid use.

“As an advocacy organization working to defend human rights, we have campaigned for decades in countries where the death penalty is used by people in power to punish their political opponents, to vilify the poor, and to marginalize people of color.

“Nationwide, the death penalty has been in decline. We must not backslide now by creating more avenues for the government to put people to death.

“We must not follow the examples of countries including the Philippines and Singapore, whose draconian measures against drug-trafficking have not only failed to address the drug crisis but also violate human rights standards.

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