Reader says no on 1 and yes on 2

Reader says no on 1 and yes on 2

Letter to the Editor:

To protect Ohio and Wayne County, I encourage all to vote no on State Issue 1 and yes to fund the new jail.

State Issue 1 is an out-of-state sponsored Ohio constitutional amendment mandating felony drug possession offenses become misdemeanors with no possibility of jail time until a third conviction within a two-year period. Although proponents state it will only apply to fourth- and fifth-degree felony drug possession offenses, the actual amendment language makes it applicable to any felony drug possession offense.

Consequently, should State Issue 1 pass, Ohio will have the most liberal drug laws in the nation. Those caught with any amount of any drug including but not limited to carfentanil, fentanyl, cocaine, LSD, methamphetamine and GHB (a date rape drug) will potentially face no effective consequences. Drug traffickers and abusers will flock to Ohio because the legal risk of possessing illicit and dangerous drugs will be minimal.

There is no “cookie-cutter” approach proven successful in helping those who continue to use illegal substances, but State Issue 1 forces such an approach. Our judges’ hands will be tied and unable to deal on a case-by-case basis with those trapped in addiction if the amendment passes.

When a judge crafts an appropriate sentence, the “stick” is as important as the “carrot,” but passage of State Issue 1 will remove the stick.

Not yet convinced? State Issue 1 also allows for the reduction of dangerous criminals’ prison sentences up to 25 percent, not by a judge where that authority should lie, but by the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. And sentence reductions can be for mere participation (not completion) in nonspecific prison programs.

Eligible convicts include those convicted of attempted murder, felonious assault, gross sexual imposition, aggravated arson and human trafficking. Frighteningly, because State Issue 1 amends the Ohio Constitution, it would take another ballot initiative and election to try to alter its catastrophic impact.

But while State Issue 1 threatens Ohio’s future, the criminal justice system in Wayne County faces serious challenges right now. Our 40-year-old, undersized county jail forces our judges to regularly reduce current inmates’ jail sentences to make room for those more recently sentenced. So while State Issue 1 must be defeated, a yes vote to fund a new jail is necessary to give our local judges the “stick” of meaningful jail time in the appropriate circumstances.

Dan Lutz

Wayne County prosecutor

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