MSNBC Frets Over Trump Calling for More Death Penalty, Tougher Sentencing

March 17th, 2018 7:39 PM

On Friday, several MSNBC shows reacted negatively to President Donald Trump's call for more death penalties and tougher sentencing for some drug dealers. After host Stephanie Ruhle mocked the plan by wondering what should happen to drug companies, substitute host Chris Jansing the next hour suggested that the President has been too quick to support capital punishment in past cases, as she oddly included murder cases.

And in the afternoon, legal analyst Danny Cevallos complained that mandatory minimum prison sentencing had "failed" because it "creates a demand for more prisons."

Introducing her 9:00 a.m. ET MSNBC Live show, Ruhle recalled that the President spoke about "the potential of the death penalty for drug dealers," and then snarked: "What's that going to mean for all the drug companies, Mr. President?"

At about 10:45 a.m. ET, Jansing seemed to find something wrong with Trump calling for the death penalty for those who murder police officers, and, even though Drew Peterson is believed to have murdered two of his wives, the MSNBC host seemed to find it questionable to call for his execution. Jansing:

It's very visceral to say, 'I want to punish the people who are responsible for this," but this is a President who has also called for the death penalty for the Central Park Five, for Bowe Bergdahl, for, I mean, Drew Peterson, for, I mean, anyone who kills a police officer, for drug dealers. There's clearly a pattern here.

As for her reference to the Central Park Five rape case, in spite of liberal media outlets repeatedly claiming otherwise, Trump, in reality, called for the death penalty to be made legal for adults who commit "murder" -- which would not have applied to a case like the Central Park Five attack since the accused were underage and were not accused of committing murder. At the time, Trump also called for longer prison sentences for minors who commit violent crimes.

Responding to Jansing, Wall Street Journal reporter Shelby Holliday commented, "Yeah, the President has an interesting relationship with the rule of law and our rights here in the United States," before recalling that parts of his plan are getting support.

At about 1:42 p.m. ET, host Craig Melvin had Cevallos on to discuss the plan. The MSNBC legal analyst acknowledged that the death penalty already exists as a punishment option for the biggest drug dealers before arguing against it because it is never enforced. After Melvin dismissively commented, "Never mind this idea that the death penalty doesn't even serve as a deterrent to crime in general," they then moved to discuss the issue of longer sentences. In spite of the substantial drop in crime that occurred in the 1990s, Cevallos only saw negative effects of longer prison sentences:

We already learned our lesson as a country in the '80s and into the '90s when we imposed what are called mandatory minimums -- automatic sentences when you have cases like drugs that where a firearm was involved.

The experiment in large part has failed -- mandatory minimums, floors for sentences for drug offenders just populates our prisons and creates a huge demand for more prison facilities, therefore building the entire prison complex and creating a demand for more prisons. It's a project that has failed. I think we can conclusively say that harsher penalties for drug offenses doesn't always solve the problem.