LIMA — Issue 1 will not only provide better treatment to individuals who struggle with substance and drug abuse, but it will also cut prison costs and will help revitalize civil rights, according to Lima NAACP President Ron Fails.
On Tuesday, Fails held a press conference to publicly announce the Lima National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s support of Issue 1 at the Grace Church Worldwide Ministries.
He also expressed that the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, Ohio chapters of the NAACP and Gary Mohr, the former director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction, were in support of the amendment as well.
“Issue 1 will better deal with the issue of overcrowding in state prisons and the cost of incarcerating a person in state prisons,” Fails said.
Ohio Issue 1 could reduce by up to 25 percent an incarcerated individual’s sentence if they participate in rehabilitative programming, and criminal offenses of select drugs and controlled substances could be classified as a misdemeanor. It could also prohibit jail time for possession of or use of select drugs, and available funding would be applied towards state rehabilitation programs and crime victim funds.
“Small amounts of drugs that are found on persons who are addicted and who have an addiction are [leading to them] being treated like they are drug traffickers,” said Fails. “Issue 1 cut prison cuts and restores civil rights. Issue 1 is dealing with the source of the problem and not just treating the symptoms.”
Fails believes Issue 1 would be be a better way of addressing drug addiction because it is considered a disease.
“It is not an attempt to set criminals free who are a threat to our community and to our society,” said Fails. “However, it is an attempt on the part of legislatures to help persons who are struggling with addiction and persons who have addiction problems. It allows persons to remain in a community in which they live in order to get help in assistance of overcoming their drug problem.”
Despite the support the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus, The Lima and Ohio NAACP and Mohr, several officials in the Lima area have voiced their opposition of the proposed amendment.
Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Dave Cheney believes that the amendment could cause drug offenders to not complete their court-ordered treatment or not seek treatment at all.
Fails understands that State Issue 1 is not perfect, but will help those who need treatment so that they can be productive citizens in the community.
“Issue 1 is smart on crime and smart on treatment,” said Fails. “A yes vote on Issue 1 will get treatment to those who need it while traffickers will continue to face the full force of Ohio law enforcement.”
Reach Camri Nelson at 567-242-0456 or on Twitter @CamriNews.