Carly Fiorina Speaks About Her Stepdaughter's Death From Addiction

By May Wilkerson 01/08/16

The Republican presidential candidate joined her colleagues in sharing her story about addiction.

Carly Fiorina

Carly Fiorina joined other Republican presidential candidates in sharing about her family’s tragic history with addiction and urging for more compassionate drug policies at the Addiction Policy Forum at Southern New Hampshire University on Tuesday.

During the hour-long panel, Fiorina opened up about her stepdaughter’s struggle with drug addiction that led to her eventual death, and urged policymakers to “tackle the addiction crisis” with treatment-based solutions over criminalization.

In a January 4 op-ed for TIME magazine the day before the conference, Fiorina wrote about her stepdaughter Lori who died at age 34 after a long battle with addiction to unknown substances. “It broke my heart to watch the look that grew in Lori’s once-bright eyes as her addictions overcame her,” she writes. “There is an old saying: ‘The eyes are the windows to the soul.’ As Lori grew progressively sicker, the potential disappeared from behind her eyes. The light, the sparkle she once had, left her.”

Referring to her stepdaughter’s past imprisonment, Fiorina said: “I know that experience did not help, because I saw her as she came out.” She urged policymakers to treat addicts as sick people in need of help instead of criminals. “We shouldn’t be criminalizing addiction,” she said. “If you’re criminalizing drug abuse, you’re not treating it.”

Fiorina pointed out that nearly half of the federal prison population are locked up for non-violent drug offenses. Nearly 85% of inmates in New Hampshire alone have a substance abuse problem. “These men and women need help,” she said. “We need to reform the criminal justice system and make sure we’re putting the right people in prison.”

She went on to say that various states have made progress in developing alternatives to imprisonment for addicts, like Texas, which now has specialized drug courts, and Georgia, which has prioritized education for inmates to help them get a job and stay out of prison.

Fiorina concluded: “We need to create a circumstance where people have a stake in their community—and they will only have that stake if they believe that their community offers them possibilities for a future.”

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.