Everyone arrested for trafficking killer drugs–like heroin and fentanyl—on the Upper Cape should be brought before a judge like Christopher Welch at Falmouth District Court.
Judge Welch is no one’s fool. He knows the deadly hands these folks are dealing to their customers.
“Fentanyl, you know it is going to kill someone if you are a dealer. You know it, and you don’t care,” he said.
Judge Welch has become known in the Cape court world for setting high bails—up to a million dollars—on defendants accused of distributing large amounts of potentially lethal drugs.
This amount of bail is more in line with a manslaughter or murder charge than a drug charge, but that’s exactly the point, the judge said. And he’s right.
“In my opinion, if people are selling death and do not feel jeopardy over selling death, they will continue to sell death,” he said.
It’s a bold stand, and a welcome one.
We encourage other judges to sit up and pay attention to Judge Welch’s example.
We’ll even take it a step further: we urge the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office to start arguing that people arrested repeatedly on drug-trafficking charges be held without bail under the state’s dangerousness statute. It’s a statute that can’t originate from the bench. It has to come from prosecutors.
This is a law normally invoked against defendants charged with violent crimes, such as gun crimes or repeat domestic violence offenses.
Last year alone, almost 2,000 people in Massachusetts died from confirmed opioid overdoses, according to the latest data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. This is far more than the roughly 300 people killed by firearms last year in the state.
Court documents show that many dealers, after they’ve already been arrested and are out on bail awaiting trial, continue to peddle their wares.
They need to be hit with a huge bail amount, not a laughable amount, or held without bail. They need to be kept locked up in jail until their cases make their way through the system. It’s time we use every tool and trick at our disposal to impede their ability to supply the drugs that have killed so many.
It’s for the public good.