Robert E. Gladd,
Thesis work-in-progress internet edition:

UNLV Institute for Ethics & Policy Studies

The case against indiscriminate drug testing:
Newt Gingrich watch, 1997



     House Majority Leader Newt Gingrich (R-GA), determined that he not be outdone in the drug war rhetoric department, is again calling for legislation requiring life imprisonment and the death penalty for certain drug offenses:

Gingrich Drug-Free by 2001

House Speaker Newt Gingrich says he plans to move full steam ahead in an effort to eradicate drugs, the Associated Press reported May 8.

Speaking before the National Religious Broadcasters in Washington, Gingrich said he hopes to eradicate the drug problem by Jan. 1, 2001. The end result would mean “such an amazingly healthier society,” he said. “That would be a vastly greater achievement than the balanced budget.”

Talking specifics, Gingrich is proposing a mandatory life prison term for those who cross borders with or produce commercial quantities of illegal drugs. He would also like to see the death sentence imposed for repeat offenders. “If you sell it, we’re going to kill you,” he warned. To also help conquer the drug problem, Gingrich said he would like Air Force reconnaissance planes to monitor drug trafficking, and for federal funds to implement faith-based rehabilitation programs.

Date: 05/09/1997 Source: Join Together Online

Never one to shrink from Herculean tasks, Mr. Gingrich intends to eradicate in four years the millenias-old human appetite for intoxication. Interestingly, his legislative definition of “commercial quantities” of illicit drugs is “100 times the normal dose,” so the hapless college student or street-level dealer caught with, say, marijuana sufficient to roll 100 joints becomes a “Drug Kingpin” eligible for the most severe of sanctions.

   We will leave aside the logistical question of how an offender gets to commit the second, “capital” offense, after receiving life (presumably without parole) for the first episode of drug possession or sales under the Gingrich proposal.

June 10, 1997 Associated Press Update:

(As it appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, June 12th) “Consider this: Charles Manson has been found guilty of trafficking in drugs in prison and has been ordered into the isolation tank. Manson was selling and using drugs, and twice tested positive for narcotics. Which raises a question about Newt Gingrich’s plan to essentially eradicate drug use in the United States by 2001. If you can’t keep drugs out of the hands of maximum-security prisoners, how can you prevent them from crossing the porous borders? Just asking.”


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