To the Editor:
Early voting has begun and Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6. On the ballot this year is State Issue 1: a constitutional amendment that seeks to reduce the number of people in state prison for low-level, nonviolent drug possession or drug use offenses or for non-criminal probation violations and by providing sentence credits for participation in rehabilitative programs and to direct the savings achieved by such reductions in incarceration to drug treatment programs and for other purposes.
What does this mean for our county?
Issue 1 is dangerous.
Even small amounts of drugs like fentanyl, heroin and meth are lethal in a single dose. Reducing drug-possession felonies to misdemeanors will make it difficult to prosecute drug traffickers, many of whom intentionally deal in small amounts. Denying judges the ability to send people to prison, or even threat of the consequence of prison, removes all judicial discretion. Ohio will have some of the most lenient drug laws in the United States.
Issue 1 undermines treatment.
This amendment does not provide for or require treatment. Current Ohio law already requires probation and treatment for low-level drug possession offenders in many circumstances; only a small fraction of probation violators and drug possession offenders ever go to prison. Successful treatment courts, like Miami County’s Drug Court, which connects addicts with closely-monitored treatment while on probation, will be virtually non-existent if felonies are reduced to misdemeanors.
Issue 1 reduces sentences for violent offenders.
This amendment will make violent offenders eligible to have their sentence reduced up to 25 percent by participating in rehabilitation in prison. This includes those convicted of crimes such as voluntary manslaughter, felonious assault, permitting child abuse, kidnapping, abduction, aggravated robbery, arson, aggravated burglary and terrorism. There is no requirement a person demonstrate rehabilitation and victims will not have peace of mind about when their offender will be released from prison.
Issue 1 will overburden local government.
The projected savings if Issue 1 passes are speculative. Issue 1 is an unfunded mandate that shifts the costs for drug treatment from the State to local government and local taxpayers will be left with the bill for treatment, probation and jail.
Please join us in voting “No” on Issue 1.
— Miami County Prosecutor Anthony E. Kendell, Miami County Sheriff Dave Duchak, Miami County Clerk of Courts Jan Mottinger, Miami County Auditor Matthew W. Gearhardt, Miami County Engineer Paul Huelskamp; Miami County Commissioner Gregory Simmons, Miami County Recorder Jessica Lopez, Juvenile Court Judge W. McGregor Dixon, Miami County Treasurer Jim Stubbs, Miami County Coroner William Ginn, M.D.