Copyright (c) 1999 Vermont Law School
Vermont Law Review
ARTICLE: THE DEATH PENALTY FOR DRUG KINGPINS: CONSTITUTIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL IMPLICATIONS
24 Vt. L. Rev. 1
Eric Pinkard *
In 1994 Congress enacted the Federal Death Penalty Act (FDPA) with provisions permitting the imposition of the death penalty on Drug Kingpins. 1 The FDPA is unprecedented in American legal history in that the death penalty can be imposed in cases where the Drug Kingpin does not take a human life. 2 To qualify for the death penalty under the act, a Drug Kingpin has to have directed a "continuing criminal enterprise" involving either large quantities of controlled substances or 20 million dollars in gross receipts from the enterprise over a one year period. 3 The specific controlled substances enumerated in the act are very large quantities or mixtures of heroin, cocaine, ecgoine, phencyclidine (PCP), lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana, or methamphetamine. 4
The judge or jury may use eight aggravating factors and eight mitigating factors to determine whether a death sentence is justified. 5 The office of the Attorney General must follow specific procedures before determining whether the government should seek the death penalty. 6 These include personal involvement by the Attorney General and written notice to the defendant. 7 A separate sentencing hearing is required by either the judge or jury to assess the statutory aggravating and mitigating circumstances. 8 A death sentence may not be imposed unless the judge or jury finds, beyond a reasonable doubt, the existence of at least one aggravating circumstance. 9
Since the FDPA does not require the killing of a human being as a prerequisite for imposing the ...
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