Last week Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo encouraging federal prosecutors to seek the death penalty for certain drug trafficking offenses.
Federal law allows for capital punishment in drug trafficking cases involving murder or homicide. But the attorney general also specifically called out one provision that allows for capital punishment in cases involving “extremely large quantities of drugs.”
That provision, 18 U.S.C. § 3591(b)(1), lays out quantities of drugs that could trigger capital punishment even in the absence of any accompanying violent crime. Experts say that no cases have ever been tried under this provision, and that it’s almost certain that it would be declared unconstitutional if any such case were to be appealed to the Supreme Court.
Still, for the time being, a zealous federal prosecutor could seek the death penalty for certain drug traffickers on the basis of drug quantity alone. Below, we visualized those quantities relative to a 6-foot-tall American man. [Read more @washingtonpost.com]