Public Safety

Make Public Safety Work: Aggressive prosecution for violent crime, available treatment for addiction.

Ohio spends more than $1.8 billion per year on a broken and overcrowded prison system that warehouses people who pose little public safety risk while treatment and prevention programs suffer. Our prisons are at 130% capacity and the population is expected to continue growing, costing taxpayers more and more money each year.

Meanwhile, law enforcement has too few local options to address the epidemic of addiction. We have saddled our criminal justice system with these problems without providing the tools to resolve it. People struggling with addiction cycle in and out of the justice system, often getting worse, not better, and taking up an enormous proportion of limited public safety resources.

It’s time to spend taxpayer dollars on what works for public safety. Let’s focus law enforcement, prosecution and incarceration resources on serious and violent crime, and invest in options beyond arrests and incarceration for people with addiction.

This was carefully written to focus tough prosecution on trafficking to ensure that people that pose a danger go to prison. Under Issue 1, drug traffickers are going to prison along with murderers, rapists and child molesters.

A Yes vote on Issue 1 will help get treatment to those who need it, while traffickers will continue to face the full brunt of Ohio law enforcement. State Issue 1 maintains Ohio’s tough trafficking laws and frees up law enforcement time to focus on trafficking and other serious and violent crimes. Issue 1 maintains the following felony laws to prosecute anyone in possession of dangerous drugs when those individuals are preying on people and communities, such as: drug trafficking; attempted drug trafficking; possession of criminal tools; corrupting another with drugs; permitting drug abuse; and numerous federal drug offenses such as possession of a controlled substance with the intent to distribute and attempts and conspiracies to distribute or possess with the intent to distribute.

More Rehabilitation: Reduce repeat offending for people coming out of prison.

Too many people come out of prison unprepared and likely to fall back into crime. Experts agree that requiring people to earn their way out of prison through proven rehabilitation and education programs reduces the likelihood they'll commit more crimes after release – that reduces repeat offending and saves taxpayer dollars.

Instead of warehousing people in prisons, this measure expands earned sentence credits so that people can be considered for an earlier parole date if, and only if, they (1) they do not have a life sentence, (2), they qualify for early release, (3) they participate in rehabilitation and education programs and (4) are approved based on Department of Corrections review of credit earned.

A Balanced Approach to Safety: Options Beyond Costly State Prison to Stop the Cycle of Addiction and Crime

Ohio spends billions on a broken prison system that incarcerates too many people for nonviolent low-level drug crimes. Wasting prison beds on people struggling with addiction makes no sense. Treatment and community supervision work better for public safety than a costly revolving prison door. Ohioans want and need options beyond costly and ineffective imprisonment to improve public safety and stop the cycle of addiction and crime.

Issue 1 begins the process of rebalancing our state’s approach to public safety. By increasing available treatment, reducing imprisonment for nonviolent low-level drug possession offenses and people that are not a threat to public safety, taxpayer dollars will be put to better use.
Research shows that the states that have reduced imprisonment the most have seen the largest declines in crime. Research also shows that reclassifying drug possession does not impact recidivism rates of people convicted of drug possession, and that reducing felony convictions for these crimes can increase opportunities for successful treatment in the community. Recent research also found no relationship between rates of imprisonment for drug offenses and rates of drug use or overdose deaths.

In enacting Issue 1, the legislature must play an active role in updating statutes and advancing a balanced approach to public safety. The Ohio legislature will be required to update Ohio statutes to align with the purpose and intent of the measure. The goal of Issue 1 is to reduce overuse of ineffective imprisonment in response to drug addiction, expand options beyond prison locally, and focus law enforcement resources on serious crimes such as trafficking. In enacting the measure, the Ohio legislature has the opportunity to:

  • Update Ohio statues to expand on pathways for prosecutors to pursue people engaged in drug trafficking and serious and violent crime;
  • Significantly expand crime prevention efforts;
  • Encourage partnerships between law enforcement, supervision, and behavioral health agencies, as well as the community to address public health safety challenges;
  • Improve the identification of people who have behavioral health needs in the criminal justice system;
  • Increase the effectiveness of treatment to improve public safety and health outcomes; and
  • Strengthen the collaboration between behavioral health and criminal justice agencies at the state and local level.