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Proposed drug law changes divide the state

Ohio prisons are 30 percent over capacity right now, which is one of the reasons that many experts are supporting a ballot measure that would make the possession of a low-level drug a misdemeanor instead of a felony. Ohio is heading to the polls and will be voting on Issue 1, a proposal that's getting a lot of pushback.

Non-criminal parole violations would also not be sent back to prison if Issue 1 passes. As a result, it is expected that the state would save around $100 million, and the measure would put aside a major proportion of that for addiction treatment. This is because many believe that incarceration often comes in the way of recovery. Where the threat of punishment would work for the majority of the population, those familiar with treating drug addicts believe that the average drug addict does not think the same way an average sober person does.

Many law enforcement officials oppose the measure, calling it devastating and dangerous. Prosecutors and judges may oppose the measure because it removes punishment entirely. Since the offender would not be put into jail or prison for the first two offenses, many believe that without threatening punishment, treatment is also not possible. Those who disagree with them claim that hanging a prison sentence over someone's head actually makes them rebel from addiction.

While the state awaits a verdict on the measure, those who are accused of committing drug crimes should keep in mind that it is possible to get help for their addiction by way of exploring alternative sentences. Consulting an experienced attorney to discuss one's options may prove beneficial for those about to enter the criminal justice system.

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