Maine Gov. Paul LePage Wants Drug Criminals Executed By Guillotine — But He Was Just Kidding

Maine has a pretty colorful governor in Paul LePage. And during a radio interview Tuesday, he lived up to his reputation when he suggested that drug dealers be executed old-school style — with a guillotine.

Of course, LePage has now stepped back a bit from this unorthodox idea. Later Tuesday, the governor’s office described the guillotine comment as a joke meant to illustrate that he’s serious about enacting tougher punishments for drug dealers, the Associated Press reported.

Based on a transcript of LePage’s interview with WVOM-FM, provided by the Washington Post, the guillotine “joke” wasn’t exactly well-received at the time. Instead, it was met with laughter and silence. LePage appeared on the show following some recent legislative and executive actions to crack down on drugs in the state.

The Bangor Daily News reported that just last week, LePage signed a $3.7 million drug bill into law, which funds 10 new enforcement agents and a new detox center. This was followed in the legislature by two more bills that aim to go even further.

Republican Sen. David Burns’ bill would create a new drug interdiction unit under the state police and three more officers to undertake drug trafficking patrols. The second bill has been offered by Sen. Scott Cyrway, which seeks to impose stiffer penalties on people who illegally import drugs into Maine. He’s proposed to add a new crime to the law books called “aggravated illegal importation of scheduled drugs,” which would carry a mandatory minimum.

LePage wants to bring back the guillotine
Photo By Enrique Ramos / Shutterstock

No one has introduced a bill to bring the guillotine into Maine’s justice system.

During his radio interview, LePage said Cyrway’s bill “doesn’t go far enough. I think the death penalty should be appropriate for people that kill Mainers.” Adding that he’s “all in,” LePage proposed sending such criminals to prison for 20 years to “keep ’em here until they die.”

The comment was met with some giggling, and LePage pressed on.

“Actually, if you want my honest opinion, we should give them an injection of the stuff they sell.”

More silence.

Next, LePage railed against the American Civil Liberties Union, who have criticized his past comments about drug traffickers (and their habit, he believes, of getting local white girls pregnant before heading back home). According to Politico, the governor has accused the ACLU of protecting traffickers.

The interviewers, once again, went silent, and then attempted to bring the conversation to an end. Just as the host started to thank the governor for his time on the show, LePage interrupted with his “joke.”

“What I think we ought to do is bring the guillotine back,” he remarked.

“Guillotine, eh?” the interviewer asked.

“The Guillotine,” clarified the other radio host.

“We could have public executions and have, you know, we could even have, uh, which hole it falls in,” he suggested, laughing.

LePage never explained what he meant by “hole.”

LePage wants to bring back the guillotine
Hulton Archive - French Revolution [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The governor would likely face an uphill battle trying to enact his old-school suggestion since the state Legislature has a long history of voting against any form of capital punishment. The death penalty was abolished in Maine in 1887, NBC News noted.

This is the second time LePage has found himself grabbing national attention for his colorful comments. At a town hall event earlier this month, he referred to drug traffickers as “D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty,” who “come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home” and “[h]alf the time… impregnate a young white girl before they leave”

Like he did in response to the backlash against his guillotine idea, LePage explained that his use of “white girls” was a slip of the tongue. Maine Democrats afterward pushed for the governor’s impeachment and have claimed that he’s abused his power.

[Photo By Robert F. Bukaty/AP]