Issue One a masquerade

To the Editor:

I strongly oppose Ohio Issue One. Ohio’s judges prefer to rehabilitate rather than to incarcerate, but I will be left powerless to do either in most cases by the passage of Issue One.

Issue One masquerades as a more thoughtful approach regarding the sentencing of drug offenders. In reality, Issue One will make neighborhoods less safe as the ultimate ability to punish those who steal, cheat, and lie in order to obtain and use dangerous drugs will no longer exist.

Issue One fails to provide adequate funding for its stated goal of rehabilitation. It also mistakenly assumes that adequate treatment facilities exist now and are ready to handle the complex needs of repeat, dependent offenders. This proposed constitutional amendment does not provide adequate funding or treatment facilities nor treatment itself, and could end up costing taxpayers millions.

The beneficiaries of Issue One’s passage will be those who break the law. Issue One’s passage will eliminate the court’s ability to secure restitution for crime victims. Criminals will know that violating a court probation order to pay restitution will have no consequence. Why pay restitution when one can’t go to prison? Why complete drug treatment, if one can’t go to prison? Ohio’s law abiding citizens will be further victimized. Loved ones of drug dependent individuals will lose their last chance to help their addict get clean in the criminal justice system.

Ohio’s judges have been on the front line of the opioid epidemic in the nation’s continual battle against drug dependency. Few defendants upon arrest are dedicated to getting clean. Usually, it is the threat of prison that helps to modify a dependant defendant’s thinking. Issue One removes the threat of incarceration from our judges’ sobriety toolkit. It is simply a very bad idea.

Having managed a drug court for over 18 months, I know that not all addicts are ready for treatment. If they were, there would be fewer addicts committing crimes. The threat of prison time is essential to assisting those who struggle with addiction. Even with this threat, some fail. How much worse will it be if no ultimate prison sanction exists?

I hope everyone will join me in voting NO to Issue One.

Jeffrey L. Robinson, Judge

Fulton County Common Pleas Court