State on wrong track

Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:

The Akron Beacon Journal, March 4

Deaths caused by heroin overdoses have risen to alarming proportions across Ohio, with local agencies and police departments straining to cope with the devastation. That has fueled an understandable sense of urgency to confront the problem and find solutions. Unfortunately, the state legislature is on the wrong track with its consideration of a bill that would increase criminal penalties for heroin possession…

What’s needed is a comprehensive approach that puts far more emphasis on prevention and treatment rather than harsh sentences. In that way, a better balance is achieved, counties currently lacking, if anything, adequate access to detox and treatment programs. Unfortunately, that does not appear to be a legislative priority. As pointed out by Kari Bloom of the state public defender’s office, legislative support for addiction services is insufficient.

Taking some dealers off the streets without resolving the underlying problem of addiction just leads to more frustration. Steering addicts into treatment instead of prison is not a sure thing. Increased education and awareness are key, too. At the same time, medical treatment and counseling are more promising than the path to expanded incarceration.

While it is tempting to believe that locking up more suppliers might prompt addicts to turn toward treatment and recovery, the spike in heroin deaths indicates otherwise…