To the editor:
Citizens have a chance, with Issue 1, to redirect some of Ohio’s $1.8 billion prison budget to sorely-needed drug treatment. Ohio locks up nearly 50,000 people, three times more than in 1980. Prisons are at 132 percent capacity — unsafe for prisoners and guards. What has it gotten us? America’s third highest rate of overdoses. More than 4,800 of our neighbors died from them last year.
Policy Matters’ report series reveals how change could help https://www.policymattersohio.org/research-policy/quality-ohio/corrections. Reducing incarceration, improving communities finds Issue 1 cuts prison population and directs over $100 million to treatment. Breaking barriers concludes Issue 1 will put Ohioans back to work — many jobs reject those who’ve served time. Incarceration hurts communities shows being in prison increases debt, slashes income, harms health, devastates families, hurts children and damages neighborhoods. Oklahoma shows Issue 1’s promise finds a similar effort reduced felonies in OK without increasing crime.
Ohio spends too much to lock up fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. Our communities — rural, urban, and suburban — struggle with addiction. Legislators have largely ignored these related problems while other states get smarter. Issue 1 reduces addiction, strengthens families, and builds our economy. It’s time for change. Vote “Yes” on Issue 1.
Amy Hanauer, executive director of Policy Matters Ohio