Off with their heads! Maine governor wants to bring back guillotine for drug traffickers

Maine Governor Paul LePage. © Jonathan Ernst
Maine Governor Paul LePage REALLY doesn’t like drug dealers. The solution, he believes, to all those heroin pushers killing Mainers and impregnating “young, white” girls in the state is to channel his inner Queen of Hearts… with the guillotine.

“I think the death penalty should be appropriate for people who kill Mainers,” the first-term Republican governor told WVOM in in an interview when asked about a recent proposal to establish a minimum sentence of four years for drug traffickers in the state, which LePage believes is too lenient.

“We’ve got to go 20 years, we’ve got to keep them here until they die,” LePage added. “We should give them an injection of the stuff they sell.”

The Pine Tree State abolished the death penalty in 1887, yet LePage may view himself as a modern-day Robespierre.

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“What we ought to do is bring the guillotine back,” he said, interrupting the hosts as they sought to end the interview. “We could have public executions and we could even have which hole it falls in.” 

“I like French history,” he added.

In France, however, there are no modern-day Marie Antoinettes: That country hasn’t executed a prisoner in more than 30 years, let alone lopped off anyone’s head. 

Although the US has never used the guillotine, a federal appeals judge wrote in a 2014 dissent that executing someone a la the French Revolution was “probably best,” although it also “seems inconsistent with our national ethos.”

LePage’s comments may represent the next vintage execution style to come back into fashion, as the country scrambles to deal with a dearth of drugs for carrying out death penalties. In March, Utah became the only state in the Union to approve death by firing squad, while Tennessee brought back the electric chair as an option in capital punishment cases.

LePage made national headlines early in January when he accused out-of-state drug dealers of impregnating white girls in Maine.

“These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty – these types of guys,” LePage said at a town hall. “They come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here to sell their heroin, they go back home.”

“Incidentally,” he added, “half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing, because we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”

LePage later apologized for his remarks, noting that he meant “Maine women” instead of “white girls,” and blamed the media for blowing his slip of the tongue out of proportion.

“I was going impromptu and my brain didn’t catch up to my mouth,” he said at a news conference.

During Tuesday’s interview, which was a preview to LePage’s town hall meeting that night, the governor decried how Maine politics have gotten bogged down in a battle of wills. He called on the legislature to increase the pay of state troopers so Maine can adequately recruit and retain officers as the state faces a growing heroin epidemic.

Lawmakers sought to impeach LePage mid-month for alleged abuse of power, but Democrats in the capitol building failed to garner enough support for an independent investigation into his actions.

Adding to the perceived political dysfunction in Maine, LePage accidentally enacted a slew of legislation he meant to veto in July. Nearly 20 new bills became law because he tried to use his pocket-veto powers while the legislature was still in session.