OPINION: Judge calls Issue 1 a ‘dangerous proposition’

EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS IS AN OPINION PIECE. On Nov. 6, Ohio voters will get the chance to weigh in on Issue 1, a proposed constitutional amendment that, if passed, would make major changes to the state's drug laws and how they're enforced.

The issue has become hotly debated – many judges, prosecutors and law enforcement leaders are against it, arguing that it will make it harder to fight drug crime; the issue is supported by numerous civil-liberties and minority groups that argue it's a long-overdue fix to antiquated laws.

Here is a sampling of some of the pro and con arguments swirling around the issue.

The Dayton Daily News is committed to presenting all sides of important issues. To see opinion commentary supporting Issue 1, click here. To see opinion commentary against Issue 1, click here

Judge Jeffrey M. Welbaum, Second District Court of Appeals of Ohio, writes about his opinion on Issue 1. 

I understand that the hype in favor of increasing treatment and reducing incarceration strikes many emotional chords and is appealing. However, the actual text of Issue 1 makes it clearly the most dangerous proposition I have seen during my nearly 41 years of combined experience as a public defender, prosecutor, felony trial judge, assistant attorney general, and appellate judge.

»TRENDING: What is State Issue 1 on the Ohio ballot this fall?

I volunteered and served as a drug court judge in felony court for eight years. I am elated when I talk with many of our graduates of the program as they successfully work and raise families in our community. Some left to attend universities. My interaction with these fellow citizens struggling with addiction was emotionally and physically draining for all of us. Their success was hard fought. The threat of immediate jail sanction was an integral tool and compelling motivator in their recovery. Many people I eventually ordered to be incarcerated have thanked me for saving their lives because now they realize that their addiction was out of control causing them to be a danger to themselves.