The proposal set to moderate penalties for a number of drug offenders was a failure. Ohio voters and families eventually saw too many weaknesses on Issue 1. According to early informal election results, the proposal measure was failing 65% to 35%. On November, 6, the Associated Press announced that Issue 1 had failed.
Possession Charges for Drug Offenders
Issue 1 would have reduced fourth and fifth degree drug possession charges to misdemeanors. However, this proposal failed. Some of those who urged a “no” vote include Ohio:
- Governor, John Kasich
Ohio Supreme Court Justice, Maureen O’Connor, had the most persuasive argument. According to her, anyone found with 20 grams of fentanyl (enough opioid to kill about 10,000 people) could no longer face the prison time. Alternatively, they would face a misdemeanor and a county jail sentence after 3 offenses in a period of 2 years.
According to the proponents, anyone found with such dangerous drug could be charged with trafficking easily. The voters, however, rejected this measure.
Voters had a concern with Issue 1. Many had the fear that this proposal would cripple drug courts. Normally, drug courts offer felony drug offenders probation instead of sending them into prison. This only happens if the offenders complete treatment and satisfy other requirements. if they are not successful, they are sentenced to prison.
Reduction of Prison Sentences: What Families Rooted For
Another proposal on Issue 1 aimed at reducing prison sentences by up to 25% for most prisoners. According to the proposal, an inmate would earn a reduction of their sentence after successfully completing:
- Educational programs
- Rehabilitation programs
- Work programs
The campaign spokesman on Issue 1, David Willard, is, however, optimistic. According to him, a win or lose to Issue 1 is just the beginning. It is not the end yet for him and his fellow proponents. He still thinks that the real solutions have not yet been reached. According to Willard, their opponents might celebrate at the moment, but soon or later, they will wake up to the same crisis.
This is not the first drug proposal to fail. In 2015, efforts to legalize marijuana in Ohio State failed also. Even though Issue 1 has failed, the failed proposals could motivate lawmakers to take a tougher look at the crowded Ohio prisons.
Paul Pfeifer, the former Ohio Supreme Court Justice, urged judges to be part of the solution. Pfeifer currently leads the Ohio Judicial Conference. According to him, the proposal is:
- Plain dishonest
In actual sense, it was a cry for help from families dealing with drug addiction.