Ballot Insights: Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Amendment Initiative

The 2018 Ohio Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment is a ballot initiative aiming to change Ohio constitution to achieve four goals: (1) change drug possession felonies to misdemeanors, (2) prohibit prison sentences for technical probation violations, (3) expand the ability to earn up to 25% off a prison sentence through rehabilitative programming, and (4) redirect funds saved from reduced incarceration to drug treatment and victims’ services. Our series, Ballot Insights, aims to unpack the complicated issues and provide a venue for informed discussion of the individual policy proposals included in this proposed constitutional amendment.

The series will open up with a conversation about the content of the amendment and the issues connected with using direct democracy to pursue these sorts of legal and policy changes. It will then continue with three events focused on the proposed sentencing and probation changes, credit-earning opportunities for incarcerated individuals and redirecting funds to treatment and victims’ services. Finally, the series will conclude with a post-election analysis of voting results.

Ballot Insights Poster


September 13 - The Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment: Step in the Right Direction?

Direct democracy through ballot initiative has a long history in the United States. In recent years, criminal justice reform advocates have turned to initiatives to achieve victories on a number of diverse issues, including victims’ rights, sentencing reform, marijuana legalization and favoring drug treatment over incarceration. But as the use of ballot initiatives has grown, so has a debate among scholars and government professionals about the potential benefits and drawbacks of using direct democracy to legislate complex and nuanced policy matters. Please join our panel of experts as they first discuss the ballot initiative's aims and objectives, and then draw on lessons from other states to discuss the pros and cons of harnessing the power of the people to achieve intricate policy changes.

Panelists:

  • Daniel Dew, Legal Fellow, Buckeye Institute
  • Steven JohnsonGrove, Attorney/Deputy Director for Policy, Ohio Justice and Policy Center
  • Louis Tobin, Executive Director, Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association

PANELISTS' BIOS

Moderator:

  • Douglas A. Berman, Executive Director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, Moritz College of Law

Where: Saxbe Auditorium, Moritz College of Law
When: 12:15 - 1:15 p.m.

October 4 - Earning Freedom: Working Toward Sentence Reduction

The state of Ohio currently allows people serving time in prison to earn up to 8% of their sentence via participation in approved rehabilitative programming. This is the lowest percentage of available “earned time credit” for any state prison system in the nation.  The proposed amendment would increase this number to 25%, a significant change to someone’s ability to shorten their time behind bars. Please join our panel of experts as they discuss the potential challenges connected to instituting this form of prison reform via a ballot initiative and what type of challenges might be encountered in implementing this change should the amendment be approved by voters.

Panelists:

  • Shon Hopwood, Georgetown University Law Center
  • Morris J. Murray, President, Ohio Prosecutors Association, Defiance County
  • David Singleton, Executive Director, Attorney at Law, Ohio Justice and Policy Center

PANELISTS' BIOS

Moderator:

  • Douglas A. Berman, Executive Director, Drug Enforcement and Policy Center, Moritz College of Law

Where: 352 Drinko Hall, Moritz College of Law
When: 12:15 - 1:15 p.m.

October 18 - Devil in the Details: Funding Effective Rehabilitation and Treatment

The cost of the opioid crisis counted in lives lost and permanently altered has been well documented over the last few years as public awareness has risen and families from all walks of lives have been affected. One of the aims of the Ohio Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment is to provide additional funding for treatment and rehabilitation for people struggling with substance use disorder.  However, not all treatment is created equal and the amendment is silent on how to ensure that funds go to proven effective treatment programs. Please join our panel of experts as they discuss possible challenges connected to the actual implementation of the initiative and the latest evidence on the effectiveness of various treatment programs and strategies. 

Where: 352 Drinko Hall, Moritz College of Law
When: 12:15 - 1:15 p.m.

November 1 - Sentencing and Parole Reform in Practice: Insights on Implementation Challenges

Sentencing reform focused on non-violent drug offenses has gained considerable support both at the state and federal level. As policymakers seek to find ways to lessen penalties associated with these types of crimes and provide retroactive relief to people effected by the war on drugs, the evidence from a number of states suggests achieving this goal might be more challenging than previously imagined. Please join our panel of experts as they discuss the potential impact of the ballot initiative on the criminal justice system and communities disproportionally affected by the war on drugs, and what steps should Ohio take to prepare for its possible passage to ensure that barriers to the promised relief are minimized for all.  

Where: Kirwan Institute, 33 W 11th Avenue, Columbus
When: 10:00 - 11:15 a.m.

November 29 - The Passage or Failure of The Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment: What Can We Learn from Ohio's Voting Patterns?

Regardless of actual outcome, our series will conclude with an event that will focus on the post-election analysis of voting patterns for and against the amendment as juxtaposed with our gubernatorial race results and data on the prevalence of drug overdoses at the county level. Please join us as we discuss what can be learned from Ohio’s voting patterns and what, if anything, can we deduce about people’s changing attitudes in respect to substance misuse disorder and criminal justice reform.

Where: Saxbe Auditorium, Moritz College of Law
When: 12:15 - 1:15 p.m.