The Three Sides of Ohio Issue 1
Ohio Issue 1 is the only statewide measure on the ballot for the general election this November, and people all over the political spectrum have something to say about it.
Aimed at reforming drug and criminal justice policies, it would achieve the following:
- Felony 4 and 5 crimes related to drug possession or use would be reduced to misdemeanors; drug trafficking crimes would remain felonies
- Jail time would be prohibited for drug possession, as long as there have been fewer than three offenses in two years
- Those on probation for felonies would not be sent back to prison for non-criminal probation violations, such as missing an appointment
- A sentence credits program would be created for inmates’ participation in rehabilitative, work, or educational programs; those convicted of murder, rape or child molestation would not be eligible
- All state savings resulting from the reduction of inmates would be allocated to drug treatment, crime victims and rehabilitative programs
At 2.2 million inmates (and another 4 million on probation or parole), the United States has the highest prison population in the world, both in relative and absolute terms. And according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, 46 percent of all inmates in the country are in for drug-related offenses. About half of those (22 percent overall) are non-violent offenders.
The Vote Yes Side
Those in favor of Issue 1 argue that the measure would direct non-violent drug offenders to treatment rather than to prison and reduce the number of those incarcerated, thereby reducing prison operating costs.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray has issued a statement in support of Issue 1, advocating for long prison sentences for drug dealers, and treatment for users. “And I will make sure that the big drug companies — who have long bankrolled Mike DeWine’s campaigns — are held accountable,” he says.
“Eight years of Mike DeWine’s failure have given us a tripling of opioid-related deaths and rising drug crime,” says Cordray in the statement. “The time for him to step up and solve this problem has long passed. Now, he wants to play politics with the opioid epidemic as it is destroying families and communities across Ohio.”
The Vote No Side — Part 1
Those in opposition to Issue 1 believe it to be counterproductive.
Ohio Attorney General and Republican candidate for governor Mike DeWine openly opposes the measure, asserting that the state’s drug courts, which order drug users into treatment, would be stripped of their power.
“The truth is some people don’t go into treatment unless pushed to do it,” DeWine told cleveland.com.
“If this proposed constitutional amendment passes Ohio would end up one of the most lenient drug crime laws in the nation making Ohio a safe haven for drug dealers and give the Mexican drug cartels a road map straight into our neighborhoods,” DeWine said.
The Vote No Side — Part 2
Some say Issue 1 just doesn’t go far enough.
The central Ohio chapter of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) advocates for a “no” vote on Issue 1, arguing that it aims to “liberate prisoners convicted of non-violent drug-related charges and prisoners who participate in prison programs at the expense of criminalizing those who fall outside these narrow parameters.”
IWOC says Issue 1’s language leaves out survivors of interpersonal violence criminalized for defending themselves against abusive companions and fails to describe what constitutes an effective treatment program.
Although savings from a reduction of incarcerated people would be diverted to rehabilitative programs, IWOC says Issue 1 ignores calls for community-based programs in favor of state-based ones.
Voters will decide the fate of Ohio Issue 1 during the general election on Tuesday, November 6. Voter registration for this election ends on October 9.
For more information, visit vote.franklincountyohio.gov.