Issue 1 – A Question

My friend Linda was in a public place the first time she saw an anti-Richard Cordray ad on TV.

The anti-Cordray ad mentioned at the very beginning the drug sentencing plan that Cordray *supports* (state issue 1) but through the rest of the ad, spoke as if it were HIS plan. At the end, I shook my magazine at the screen and whispered…”but you didn’t tell them not to vote for that plan.”

I was happy to see that I wasn’t the only person who had noticed the odd way the anti-Issue 1 crowd was framing their attack. The commercial that first got my attention begins with a couple of Barney Fifes looking into the camera and asks us if we are scared of Richard Cordray’s plan. If we aren’t, we should be. They then go on to talk about the criminals that would be roaming our streets and the danger we would face if Cordray’s plan was implemented.  At no point is Issue 1 ever mentioned.

As a contrarian, my first impulse was to send a check to the pro-issue 1 campaign.  Worse, the second or third time I saw the ad I was finally able to see where these sheriffs served, the middle of nowhere Ohio.  One was from Meig County, population 23,000.  The other was from Jackson County, crowded by comparison with a population of 32,506.  Together their counties have about as many people as Euclid, Ohio, a place that neither of them could get elected dogcatcher.

Issue 1 is too important to be discussed this way. Another ad, from the pro-Issue 1 campaign, has a father speculating that had his son had access to the right kind of treatment he might still be alive.  The spot is touching and effective, but again fails to provide any details.

This is the link to the actual ballot language with an overview.  The big changes include:

  •  Sentence reductions
  •  Reclassification of certain offenses from felonies to misdemeanors
  •  Prohibits jail time on the first two arrests for obtaining, possessing or using drugs during a 24 month period
  •  Allow people previously convicted to seek a reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor
  •  Require any money saved to be redirected to state-administered rehabilitation programs and crime victim funds
  •  Require a graduated series of responses, such as community service, drug treatment, or jail time, for minor, non-criminal probation violations

There appears to be three responses to Issue 1.

Proponents believe that incarceration is not the way to solve our drug problem. Instead of spending $1.8 billion on prisons we could better use the money to help end the addictions driving the criminal behavior.

The argument against Issue 1 focuses on the possibility of the early release of violent offenders.

Another opinion is espoused by people like Ohio House Representative Glenn Holmes (D-63) who recently noted the problem with making Issue 1 a part of the State of Ohio Constitution.  He thought that the state legislature was the appropriate place to address the issue.

I wish I knew the answer. I wish I knew how best to address our growing drug problem.  I would be interested in hearing from you.

How do you plan on voting on Issue 1?

DAVE

3 thoughts on “Issue 1 – A Question

  1. Dave, I will be voting a split ticket: For Cordray/Sutton, and NO on Issue 1. I believe that the policy changes the issue proposes should be dealt with by statute, not constitutional amendments. The Ohio Constitution is already weighed down by amendments whose narrow focus should have made them ineligible for inclusion in what is supposed to be the foundation of our state’s laws

    Beyond the constitutional issues, I disagree with most of the changes Issue 1 would require. I find it disingenuous that they made the sentence reduction availability apply to all except three specified crimes, not only drug offenses. I don’t know how many voters will mind that, or even recognize it, but I do not like being “played.” More important than my feelings is my belief that this amendment, if adopted, would exacerbate existing disrespect for the law. If something is illegal, there ought to be penalties, not guaranteed second chances withing a rolling 24-month period. That the “rehab, not prison” mantra is being chanted by self-proclaimed civil libertarians gives me pause: do they not see excessive state power in allowing the government to require personal rehabilitation? Has anyone thought about how the presence of unwilling participants might ruin the rehab experience for people who chose to be there.

    As I read the full text of the amendment yesterday and I thought about the legal and administrative structures that will be needed to implement and sustain its requirements, all I could think was how unfortunate it is that I am not an attorney or consultant. They will benefit early and often, while the rest of us wonder whatever happened to the savings the amendment promised.

    Yes, you can quote me on that.

  2. I like the idea of addicts who want treatment getting treatment, and I also like the idea idea of people incarcerated for non-violent crimes pursuing enrichment opportunities, but I believe the ballot language for Issue 1 is too broad and too vague. It’s also concerning to me that it would tie a judge’s hands from perhaps issuing an appropriate sentence. The prison system is in dire need of reform and people –particularly POC– need to stop receiving years-long sentences for possession of a bag of weed, but I believe Issue 1 is a dupe.

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