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Ohio Issue 1 FAQ: What You Need To Know

November 5, 2018

A: Under the Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment obtaining, possessing and using drugs and drug paraphernalia can only be a misdemeanor. People would be placed on probation for the first two times they were convicted in 24 months.
  • Under current law, these crimes can be felonies.
  • Felony convictions often carry prison time and fines. For instance, a fifth-degree felony – the lowest-level felony in Ohio -- carries a maximum of 12 months in prison and an up to $2,500 fine.
  • Drugs included in Issue 1 are heroin, fentanyl, methamphetamine and cocaine.
Q: Does Issue 1 release people from prison? A. Issue 1, if adopted, requires sentence reductions of incarcerated people – unless convicted of murder, rape or child molestation -- by up to 25 percent if they participate in rehab, work or educational programming. Furthermore, people who were convicted before Issue 1 goes into effect could ask the court to reclassify their crimes as misdemeanors.
  • The amendment specifies that money saved would go to substance abuse treatment  programs, crime victim funds and adult and children programming for people in the justice system.
  • The amendment contains specifics about how the money is spent and which rehab programs could qualify for grants.
  • In just the first full year of implementation, supporter Policy Matters Ohio estimates Issue 1 could divert more than $136 million from the prison system to community programs, based on 2,668 people being diverted into their communities due to crime reclassification.
  • Policy Matters Ohio estimates thousands of Ohioans could qualify for jobs that pay on average $4,700 more a year if they could get felonies reclassified as misdemeanors.
  • Opponents  dispute these figures. They say at best the state could see $24.7 million in savings in 2020. At worst, it will cost Ohio money.
  • Opponents are concerned that the amendment doesn't explicitly require treatment, meaning if funding doesn't materialize as proponents estimate, then people won't get the help they need.
Q: If Issue 1 helps keep people out of prison, how can judges keep them in line on probation?
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