VOTE NO on State Issue 1
Five Reasons Issue 1 Must Be Defeated
Issue 1 on the November ballot, funded by George Soros and Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg, purports to be about getting treatment for drug users. But it’s much more than that. It will also reduce even major drug possession offenses to the equivalent of traffic violations, it usurps the power and flexibility of Ohio’s judges and drug courts, it will levy huge costs on our counties with no funds to pay them, and it will endanger our families and children by flooding our streets with drugs – all at a time when opioid deaths in Ohio are exceeding the death toll from the Vietnam War. Issue 1 is a danger to Ohio. Here is what Issue 1 really does, and why it must be defeated:
1. Issue 1 makes possession of any amount of deadly drugs (including fentanyl) nothing more than a misdemeanor, and forbids jail sentencing for the first two offenses, no matter what quantities of drugs are involved.
2. Issue 1 significantly damages Ohio’s economy and our job development efforts. Ohio would be alone among states in our region with ultraliberal Issue 1 drug laws – at a time when Ohio employers already complain that they can’t find workers who can pass drug tests. Issue 1 will drive jobs from Ohio.
3. Issue 1 puts Ohio drug law in the Constitution where it can be changed only through lengthy process and vote of the electorate. Ohio will be unable to respond rapidly to any new drug threat.
4. Issue 1 will flood Ohio’s streets with drugs. With all deterrent gone except for traffic-violation level fines, possessors of drugs will laugh at police knowing they cannot be jailed.
5. Issue 1 enables the immediate release of as many as 10,000 felony offenders from Ohio prisons into our communities.*
Despite claims from supporters, experts including judges, prosecutors, and treatment professionals agree this issue will result in less people in treatment, not more.
*Proponents of Issue 1 say fourth and fifth degree non-violent felony offenses are “minor” and those in prison for them should be eligible to be released. But the fact is the vast majority of such offenders are in prison because of plea bargaining down from more serious offenses. Judges in Ohio do not imprison people they believe are not a threat to society.
The major takeaways are that:
The amendment will not produce significant savings
- The amendment could actually increase costs to the state by tens of millions of dollars
- The amendment would add costs for local governments that would not be covered by the amendment
- There is no “addiction-to-prison” pipeline. The analysis states that there were 1600 F4/F5 offenders sent to prison in FY 2018 whose most serious offenses was drug possession. This number is projected to drop to 1200 in FY 2019. Fewer than 14 people per county. A little more than 0.01% of Ohio’s population.
I encourage everyone to send this to anyone who would take the time to focus on the specifics of this issue. Please post about it on social media, and begin discussing it when you give talks about Issue 1. This OMB analysis completely refutes the proponents’ two main arguments – that there are too many addicts in prison and that if we could only get them out we would save $100 million a year. These are grossly misleading.
Additionally, it is no small point that thousands of serious offenders will be released and many others won’t be prosecuted. Perhaps most alarming is that this proposal changes Ohio's Constitution - so if it passes, and the public starts to recognize the consequences - it will handcuff the legislature! It will be next to impossible to undo these dangerous provisions. Even if people believe changes are needed in the criminal justice system, those should be done through the legislative process and changed as needed like all other laws not through Constitutional Amendment.
Please help spread the word on this in anyway you can. This should not be seen as a partisan issue. It is about public safety and the administration of justice. If you want more specific information feel free to contact me.