OPINION: Organizations, people explain why they support State Issue 1

COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 6:  Voting stickers lay on a table at the Kings Art Center November 6, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. Recent polls show U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are locked in a tight race.  (Photo by Jay LaPrete/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 155697219
Caption
COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 6: Voting stickers lay on a table at the Kings Art Center November 6, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. Recent polls show U.S. President Barack Obama and Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are locked in a tight race. (Photo by Jay LaPrete/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 155697219

Credit: Jay LaPrete

Credit: Jay LaPrete

EDITOR'S NOTE: THIS IS AN OPINION PIECE. On Nov. 6, Ohio voters will get the chance to weigh in on Issue 1, a proposed constitutional amendment that, if passed, would make major changes to the state's drug laws and how they're enforced.

The issue has become hotly debated – many judges, prosecutors and law enforcement leaders are against it, arguing that it will make it harder to fight drug crime; the issue is supported by numerous civil-liberties and minority groups that argue it's a long-overdue fix to antiquated laws.

Here is a sampling of some of the pro and con arguments swirling around the issue.

The Dayton Daily News is committed to presenting all sides of important issues. To see opinion commentary supporting Issue 1, click here. To see opinion commentary against Issue 1, click here

1. American Civil Liberties Union

The ACLU of Ohio urges a “yes” vote on State Issue 1, which will reduce the number of people in state prison and reinvest the savings to drug treatment programs and community services. The ballot measure would amend the state Constitution and require all fourth- and fifth-degree felony offenses for obtaining, possessing, or using drugs or drug paraphernalia to be reclassified as misdemeanors.

"For decades the Ohio General Assembly has refused to acknowledge our over-crowded prisons, has repeatedly increased and enhanced sentences for drug use and possession, and has perpetuated the failed 'War on Drugs' in a disastrous way. Ohio voters now have the opportunity to reform our broken criminal justice system by supporting Issue 1," said Gary Daniels, chief lobbyist for the ACLU of Ohio. "At its core, the initiative will improve community health, reduce our prison populations, and reinvest in communities." READ MORE

 

2. Ohio Education Association

The Neighborhood Safety and Drug Treatment Amendment, Issue 1, would not change laws or funding for incarcerating people convicted of serious crimes such as murder, rape, and child molestation. A broad, bipartisan coalition of community, faith, law enforcement, and business groups has formed to support this measure and help Ohio improve safety and reduce prison costs.

It's time to stop wasting prison space on people convicted of nonviolent crimes and people that are no longer a threat to public safety. Ohio needs a balanced approach to public safety that includes treatment, rehabilitation and accountability. READ MORE

3. Policy Matters Ohio

Ohio Issue 1 could substantially reduce incarceration of non-violent Ohioans and redirect resources toward treatment and community safety.

The initiative is designed to increase public safety and reduce incarceration in four major ways. It reclassifies non-violent drug possession as a misdemeanor and assigns those Ohioans to treatment or other community-based approaches. It prevents re-imprisonment of formerly incarcerated community members when their only new infraction is a probation violation that is not itself a crime. It rewards rehabilitation by allowing those in prison to earn credits that reduce sentence terms if they take part in education, behavioral, and treatment programs. Finally, it redirects savings from reduced incarceration to treatment, safety and victim recovery programs for Ohioans of all ages, which should improve safety and reduce addiction. READ MORE