Dooger Rants About Ohio Issue 1 (2018)

The main premise of Ohio issue 1 on the November 2018 ballot is that “prison spending should be focused on violent and serious offenses.” Certainly, I agree that prison spending should be focused on violent and serious offenses. The mistake supporters make is assuming that drug abuse is NOT a serious offense. In 2017, there were 710 murders in Ohio. During the same year, 4854 Ohioans died from drug overdose. Which is the more serious of these two violent crimes?

Supporters assume issue 1 will generate cost savings by reducing the number of inmates. Afterwards, the money can be redirected to drug rehab programs. Cost models exist that support both sides of the issue. Most of the models in support of issue 1 are based on the per-diem of a prisoner which is around $74. Those against the bill argue increased costs of the local courts to process the increase in misdemeanor cases. What I would like to see is a model that shows the daily cost to keep a user on the street. One dose of Narcan is around $140, or twice the amount of a single day in prison. Add on to that the cost of first responders, homeless shelters, and foster care and I would argue that $74 per day sounds pretty cheap.

Statistics from the National Emergency Medical Services Information System (NEMSIS) show that 1004 out of every 100000 EMS events in 2016 involved administration of Narcan. Drug overdoses account for one percent of all ambulance runs.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, two thirds of the chronically homeless have a substance use disorder. While substance abuse could be either a cause or effect for homelessness, there is strong evidence that there is a correlation.

Being a foster family, we have seen the devastation that drug abuse has on families. In 2016, 34% of Children Services cases were directly related to parental substance abuse. The real tragedy in the opioid crises is not the addicts but their innocent children. Because of their parent’s poor decisions, many children suffer the consequences of drug abuse.

Many groups have spoken up for and against issue 1. One disturbing fact about the campaign in favor of the issue is funding. Two out of state billionaires, Mark Zuckerburg and George Soros, provided 94% of the funds to put this issue on the ballot. In contrast, many of Ohio’s judges and lawyers oppose the bill. Chief Justice O’Conner opposes it because it severely limits the incentive for addicts to seek treatment. Drug courts have made progress in recent years by offering treatment as an alternative to prison.

While you can easily find opinions with pros and cons, it’s difficult to find the text of the proposed bill. Before you cast your vote on November 6th, I encourage you to read the actual text of the bill. Do not simply rely on other people’s opinion, including my own. Substance abuse is a very serious crime that has drastic affects not only on the user, but also on society. As for me, I will be voting against the bill. I hope you come to the same conclusion, and use your vote wisely.




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