Recently, Matt Walsh of the Daily Wire tweeted that Singapore is able have “nice things” (referring to the technological and economic advancements the country has made) because of their severe penalties on criminals, including the execution of drug traffickers. This opinion is not a new one to conservatives, as former President Donald Trump has called for the same thing. This line of thinking is lunatic for a party that claims to care about freedom and the U.S. Constitution—which explicitly protects citizens against “cruel and unusual punishments.”
For starters, Singapore’s harsh stance on drug abuse and trafficking is not remarkably effective. According to the CNB, the number of people being arrested for drug abuse was about the same between 2012 and 2019 at around 3,500. While there were major decreases in 2020 and 2021, that is likely because of the restricted social interactions the country had during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even with their harsh policies of capital punishment, the number of people arrested for abuses since 2003 has skyrocketed.
It is hard to claim a system works when methamphetamine and cannabis seizure has been increasing, not shrinking.
Then there is the fact that many arrests among abusers are racial minorities. Despite making up just 13% of the entire population, Malaysians made up 84% of executions for drug trafficking. Homosexuals are incarcerated in DRC for a year with no chance of release while others can access programs after 4-6 months.
If you are rich, then you are exempt from cruel punishments. Abusers can go to international rehabilitation center chains such as The Cabin that offer comfortable conditions for the abusers. The Government Rehabilition Centers, which are given to those who do not receive the luxuries the upper class get, are poor on contrast.
But there is more than meets the eye when we look at drug abusers. Back in 2013, Lindsay Sandiford lost her appeal to being executed for drug smuggling ten pounds of cocaine in her luggage. However, a look into her reveals that she is mentally ill and claimed that traffickers threatened to harm her family if she did not.
Mary Jane Veloso is in a similar boat. She was sentenced to death for smuggling six pounds of heroin into Indonesia. Her family claims she was given the suitcase by her god-sister, not knowing it had drugs inside of it. And despite the pleas of the international community, she remains on death row.
If these two women and other situations like theirs are indeed true, why do they deserve death? Being tricked or coerced by other people into smuggling these drugs is not worthy of death. That is sick.
Even if they were normal traffickers, why would they care about the death penalty for it? A seasoned drug dealer should not expect to live to past their 40s. Why would they not want to pursue as many profits as they can, regardless of punishment? All the death penalty has accomplished has been raising the cost of doing business. This cripples their customers, who buy it regardless of the law and now must pay more for it. And heavy-handed methods lead to incidents like Sandiford and Veloso.
People like Matt Walsh and Donald Trump continue to advocate these policies despite their failures in countries like Singapore and the harsh punishments they create for suffering people like Sandiford and Veloso.