PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WTXF) - The possibility of the death penalty as a punishment for high-level drug dealers is being discussed by President Trump as a potential solution to the growing drug epidemic in the United States.
When punishment like the death penalty is thrown around, it begs the question would extreme measures really have the desired impact?
"When I was looking at twelve to twenty four years, mercy was shown to me and I was given a chance. Yes, I was wrong for participating in that type of activity, but my life? Nah!" said a former admitted dealer.
And, that's the overwhelming response of so many people. Not people on the outside, but users and dealers. People who themselves may have faced the death penalty if it existed.
"I don't know what they consider a high level drug dealer, but for me I know I've been to the Mexican border and back pretty much loaded and God had mercy on me. He plucked me out of that type of lifestyle," said a different former dealer.
Now, after numerous chances, he's helping recovering addicts in Kensington. Another former dealer expressed he doesn't understand why the government would be committed to the death penalty but not to providing opportunities and care.
"I felt as though that was the only way that I could get money. Until I got with some mentors that showed me another kind of way to provide for myself and my family members," he said.
The details of the plan haven't been laid out yet, but one thing that's clear is that if the death penalty is discussed for drug dealers, people like Ramon Cruz would likely have been considered for it.
"Five, ten thousand dollars a day, so it was vey productive selling drugs," Cruz said.
Hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of dollars, multiple jail sentences and likely one of the people communities would have supported getting the death penalty.
"I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you today. I was blessed to get another chance," Cruz explained.
And, with that chance the man who terrorized communities for years is now serving them working daily as a peer specialist for the city.
"I got a huge chance and make the best of it today. I go out into the community and speak to the younger guys in the community and show them that's not a way to live," said Cruz.
The death penalty as a solution? No one knows. There are many drug dealers who don't care to turn their lives around. But, some drug dealers who would likely have received the death penalty are instead alive, they got help and are improving communities.
Something else to consider…for goodness' sake.