OPINION: Policy Matters Ohio supports State Issue 1

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

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

Policy Matters Ohio shares their position on Issue 1. 

Ohio Issue 1 could substantially reduce incarceration of non-violent Ohioans and redirect resources toward treatment and community safety.

The initiative is designed to increase public safety and reduce incarceration in four major ways. It reclassifies non-violent drug possession as a misdemeanor and assigns those Ohioans to treatment or other community-based approaches. It prevents re-imprisonment of formerly incarcerated community members when their only new infraction is a probation violation that is not itself a crime. It rewards rehabilitation by allowing those in prison to earn credits that reduce sentence terms if they take part in education, behavioral, and treatment programs. Finally, it redirects savings from reduced incarceration to treatment, safety and victim recovery programs for Ohioans of all ages, which should improve safety and reduce addiction.

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

Reducing incarceration through this measure would lower costs in the prison system, reduce overcrowding, help more Ohioans get jobs and contribute to their families and communities, and enable better treatment for crime victims and offenders. …

Ohio spends $1.3 billion a year to keep nearly 50,000 of our residents in prison. We imprison a higher share of our residents than most other states, and only two states have a higher share of people in the probation system. Many incarcerated Ohioans have never committed a violent crime and are in prison only because they were drug users. Treating them through community-based rehabilitation would cost less and could do more to help them become drug-free and ready to work. Others are in prison only because they violated probation in some minor way, missing an appointment or staying out past curfew. Finally, currently incarcerated Ohioans would emerge from prison better able to work and be part of society if they had more reason to be part of rehabilitation and education programs.

» WHAT THE CANDIDATES SAY: Governor candidates DeWine, Cordray debate Issue 1

Ohio Issue 1 would reduce incarceration, improve public safety, and free up over a hundred million dollars each year for Ohio to redirect toward treatment and victim services.

More than 10,000 Ohioans could be taken out of expensive incarceration and served in the community, where they can better participate in work and family life. Doing so would redirect more than $136 million dollars in the first year of implementation. Ohio citizens should take advantage of the opportunity to save costs, reduce addiction and improve public safety by supporting this ballot initiative.