Here is why I’m voting NO!
First and foremost, the name and details of this initiative are misleading and confusing. Passage of this issue would create a dangerous environment for our children while making our roles as parents even harder.
Let’s start by dissecting the ballot language piece by piece.
What it says – “Require sentence reductions of incarcerated individuals, except individuals incarcerated for murder, rape, or child molestation, by up to 25% if the individual participates in rehabilitative work or educational programming.”
What it means – This would strip the Judges of their current power to decide what is the best sentence for a specific individual. “REQUIRE SENTENCE REDUCTIONS.” Not EVERYONE should get this, nor would this route ALWAYS help! It excludes individuals incarcerated for murder, rape, or child molestation…but the offenders of other serious crimes would see the same leniency: Attempted murder, involuntary manslaughter, kidnapping, abduction, aggravated burglary, felonious assault, felony child abuse, aggravated arson, drug trafficking, sexual battery, felony domestic violence, human trafficking, gross sexual imposition, terrorism…just to name a few! And finally, on this piece, because we would take the power away from the Judge, jail time would be removed as a potential consequence for not completing the ‘rehabilitative work or educational programming.’
What it says – “Mandate that criminal offenses of obtaining, possessing, or using any drug such as fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine, LSD, and other controlled substances cannot be classified as a felony, but only a misdemeanor.”
What it means – A simple example… An individual can possess enough fentanyl to KILL thousands of people and only be charged with a misdemeanor…
What it says – “Prohibit jail time as a sentence for obtaining, possessing, or using such drugs until an individual’s third offense within 24 months.”
What it means – Repeat offenders can continue to make the SAME dangerous mistakes over and over again without any real consequences!!!
What it says – “Allow an individual convicted of obtaining, possessing, or using any such drug prior to the effective date of the amendment to ask a court to reduce the conviction to a misdemeanor, regardless of whether the individual has completed the sentence.”
What it means – Individuals currently doing the time for the crime…would be let off without finishing the time. They could be released back into society without any understanding of the severity of what they’ve done and without any risk of additional consequences should they go right back to doing it again.
What it says – “Require any available funding, based on projected savings, to be applied to state-administered rehabilitation programs and crime victim funds.”
What it means – Local governments would lose control over your tax dollars and input on how best to utilize those funds for their specific community. Additionally, we would be supplying money to the crime victim funds while essentially increasing the risk for more victims by reducing punishment for offenders.
What it says – “Require a graduated series of responses, such as community service, drug treatment, or jail time for minor, non-criminal probation violations.”
What it means – When an offender is on probation and violates that condition, jail time is STILL not an option.
The overall dangers this will create:
- It would flood our communities with drugs. Passage would make Ohio one of the most permissive states for drug use. We would essentially be marketing our neighborhoods to drug dealers as a low-risk and prime location to do business!
- It would undermine treatment and local programs. This would destroy our local drug courts that are experiencing success. And it would drastically affect the motivation for offenders to participate in programs that are working.
- It would pave the way for access to deadly substances. We would say that we are tolerant of those carrying around substances that can kill thousands of people.
- It would CHANGE THE CONSTITUTION. So, when we realize how bad this really is (should we make the mistake of passing), it will take many months and many dollars to attempt to change it.
It’s also important to note that our local Job and Family Services agencies are already facing funding issues to care for children caught in the crossfire of this epidemic. By reducing the consequences addicted parents and family members could face, we could subject even more children to even more pain, disorder, and neglect.
Issue One sends a DEVASTATING message to our children. We are telling our kids that drugs aren’t dangerous. And we are removing the consequences we often work into our parenting approaches when teaching our children to stay away from drugs.
Missing curfew is a minor mistake that doesn’t necessarily affect your child’s future. Using heroin…is a lot different…