About Issue 1
The Ohio State Bar Association is joined by prosecutors, judges, probation officers, and other experts across the state in its belief that treatment and rehabilitation in lieu of conviction are the right strategies for curbing Ohio’s opiate crisis – these strategies have been successful in drug courts across the state.
However, well-intentioned though it may be, Issue 1 is a poorly-written, poorly-designed proposal that locks bad policy into the Ohio Constitution and cripples the criminal justice community’s ability to compel offenders to get the treatment they need.
Issue 1 Does Not Belong in the Ohio Constitution
Issue 1 would radically reclassify drug crimes in Ohio by adding thousands of words into the state Constitution. Specific and complex criminal law changes should be addressed through the legislative process which would not alter the Constitution.
Fixing the problems and unintended consequences that will arise should Issue 1 pass would require another Constitutional amendment approved by voters. This is an expensive, time-consuming, and uncertain process that will greatly hinder the ability of law enforcement and policy makers to respond to Ohio’s ongoing opiate crisis.
Issue 1 Eliminates Judicial Discretion in Drug Sentencing
Issue 1 goes too far. It strips Ohio judges of their discretion to hold offenders accountable, both for significant drug crimes, and for completing life-saving drug treatment programs.
Issue 1 would dictate that an individual in possession of fentanyl (the class of drug responsible for 71% of Ohio overdose deaths in 2017), even in deadly amounts, could only be charged with a misdemeanor and no jail time, giving law enforcement and judges fewer tools to keep us safe.
Issue 1 sets Ohio back. Without the threat of prison to compel many offenders into treatment, this amendment will decimate the good work being done in Ohio drug courts and could actually worsen Ohio’s drug crisis.