On November 6th, Ohio’s voters will get to determine the future of Issue 1, a proposed amendment to Ohio’s constitution. If passed, it will reduce sentences for various people who have already been incarcerated, mandate that drug possession and use charges be classified as misdemeanors only, prohibit jail time for possessing or using drugs until a third offense, and require savings from this amendment be spent on rehabilitation programs and crime victim funds.
While well-intentioned, it will:
- Effectively undermine treatment.
- Encourage drug trafficking in Ohio.
- Inhibit the life-saving work of Ohio’s drug courts.
- Shift costs to local government without actually providing any additional funding.
While we at Prevention Action Alliance resolutely believe that non-violent individuals with substance use disorders should receive treatment for their disease instead of being incarcerated, Issue 1 would fail to provide a well-crafted approach to this end.
Ensuring individually tailored, successful treatment is too complicated for a ballot measure to effectively require. Issue 1 would hamstring courts from guiding people into treatment by taking away important disincentives. Treating people with substance use disorders is multifaceted. It requires much more than a broadly worded ballot measure. Thoughtful legislation guided by experts in the fields of substance misuse and abuse and taking into consideration proven, evidence-based strategies will lead to positive outcomes.
We implore the Ohio General Assembly to seek bi-partisan legislative solutions to address the incarceration of non-violent offenders with substance use disorders. We also ask voters to vote against this well-intentioned, yet poorly construed ballot initiative.
Below, you’ll find links to more information about Issue 1, including our statement and the rationale for that statement, a press release, and a letter to the editor. We encourage you to learn more about this initiative, and we implore you to consider the impact it would have on our state.