One of the biggest problems facing politicians across the country over the last 10 years has been the opioid epidemic. While the access to drugs and the number of drug related deaths have increased significantly over the last decade, few states and even fewer politicians have been able to pass meaningful reform to address these issues. Elizabeth Warren is one of many politicians who has not even tried to improve the opioid crisis in her home state. As a matter of fact, the epidemic has hit Massachusetts harder than almost every other state. According to Mass.Gov, the number of opioid related deaths in Massachusetts has increased by at least 20% in every year between 2013-2016. The exact increases look like this
- 2013: 45% increase in opioid related deaths from the prior year
- 2014: 29% increase in opioid related deaths from the prior year
- 2015: 21% increase in opioid related deaths from the prior year
- 2016: 26% increase in opioid related deaths from the prior year
The increases in opioid related deaths have remained one of the biggest issues in Massachusetts during Warren’s first term. A bigger indicator of the opioid crisis in Massachusetts is how the state ranks amongst others in overdose death rates. Massachusetts has gotten worse rankings between 2014-2016, ranking as high as high as 6th worst in the country. The exact rankings according to the CDC are as follows
- 2014: 13th in overdose death rate
- 2015: 7th in overdose death rate
- 2016: 6th in overdose death rate
Not only does Massachusetts rank amongst the worst states in the country for overdose deaths, but according to the Boston Herald, Massachusetts arrests the fewest number of drug abusers in the country. In addition to allowing thousands of drug dealers to walk free throughout the state, many dealers who are arrested are let go on measly fines or warnings. Take for example the ruling of Salem judge Timothy Feeley back in May, when he refused to send convicted drug dealer Manuel Soto-Vittini to jail because he was afraid the criminal alien would be deported. This was clearly a decision made for political reasons, and kept a man who was found guilty just 3 years ago of possessing and dealing heroin. More recently, judge Feeley dropped the bail of a man arrested for his 5th OUI offense from $25,000 to $1,000 showing once again that Massachusetts judges are too lenient on drug dealers and abusers. As if the cases handled by judge Feeley weren’t enough evidence of the leniency Massachusetts judges show towards drug dealers and abusers, let’s take the case of Weymouth resident Emmanuel Lopes, who in October of 2017 was let free on bail after being convicted of selling cocaine to minors among other offenses. Lopes would then go on to cause a vehicular accident just a few weeks ago, and shot and kill responding officer Michael Chesna.
So what exactly is behind Warren’s failure to address the opioid crisis and leniency of sentencing drug dealers and abusers? Is it because she doesn’t think that letting dangerous criminals walk on our streets is a problem? Is it because she just does not care about our residents? Or is there a bigger political aim at play? Let’s look at some numbers relating the opioid crisis in Massachusetts to the 2012 Senate election to determine just how much politics play into Warren’s refusal to address this crisis. Since 2013, 9 cities across Massachusetts have accounted for 1/3 of the opioid related deaths in the state. All of those 9 cities voted overwhelmingly in favor of Warren in 2012, in the 3 of the cities she won by at least 40 points, in 4 more of those cities Warren secured at least 62% of the vote winning by anywhere between 24 and 29 points, and in the final 2 cities she won by 8 points and 18 points respectively. Warren’s average total between the 9 cities was 66% of the vote, or roughly winning by 23,800 votes on average. In total, the 9 cities responsible for the majority of opioid related deaths since 2014 accounted for 18% of the total voter turnout in 2012, 23% of Warren’s votes and over 560,000 total voters at the polls, while Warren won just under 390,000 of those votes, or 69%.
So you decide, what does Elizabeth Warren really care about? Does she care about the safety of the people of Massachusetts, or does she simply care about racking up votes at the polls?