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Resources for Issue 1: Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Amendment Initiative
Issue 1, also known under its original title The Neighborhood Safety, Drug Treatment, and Rehabilitation Amendment, is an effort aimed at amending several aspects of Ohio’s criminal justice system. Given the complex nature of the proposed changes, the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center has collected resources to provide relevant information to the public to assist them in their decision making. The resources include the original wording of the initiative, as well as selected media coverage, official position statements from stakeholder groups and relevant information about other states’ similar efforts. The center has also solicited expert commentaries from leading academics that can be found here.
Race and Criminal Justice: Ohio Issue 1 and Beyond
Kyle Strickland, Senior Legal Research Associate; Kelly Capatosto, Senior Research Associate; Leigha Grosh, Intern, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race & Ethnicity; Cyan Blackwell, Student, John Glenn College of Public Affairs
Mass incarceration is a crisis in America. Nationwide, 2.2 million Americans are in prison or jail. Nearly five million are on community control. Many of these Americans are locked away or punished for low-level, non-violent drug offenses. Our nation’s history of racism and discrimination is deeply ingrained in our criminal justice system. Today, Black men are imprisoned at six times the rate of White men, and Black women are imprisoned at nearly twice the rate of White women. These disparities cannot be simply attributed to higher propensity to commit crimes. Research shows that people of color are more likely to be arrested and sentenced longer than whites, even in cases where similar crimes are committed at similar rates. If current trends continue, one of every three Black men born today will go to prison in his lifetime, as well as one of every six Latino men.
Reclassified: State Drug Law Reforms to Reduce Felony Convictions and Increase Second Chances
Brian Elderbroom and Julia Durnan, Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute
Recognizing the harm caused by felony convictions and the importance of targeting limited correctional resources more efficiently, state policymakers and voters have made key adjustments to their drug laws in recent years. Beginning in 2014 with Proposition 47 in California, five states have reclassified all drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor. Following the California referendum, legislation in Utah (House Bill 348 in 2015), Connecticut (House Bill 7104 in 2015), and Alaska (Senate Bill 91 in 2016) p assed with overwhelming bipartisan majorities, and Oklahoma voters in 2016 reclassified drug possession through a ballot initiative (State Question 780) with nearly 60 percent support. The reforms that have been passed in recent years share three critical details: convictions for simple drug possession up to the third conviction are classified as misdemeanors, people convicted of drug possession are ineligible for state prison sentences, and these changes apply to virtually all controlled substances. This brief explores the policy details of reclassification, the potential impact of the reforms, and lessons for other states looking to adopt similar changes to their drug laws.
The information presented below provides a selection of media coverage of Issue 1.
11-5-2018 - Enquirer endorsement: No on Issue 1
10-30-2018 - Toledo clergy voice support for Issue 1
10-30-2018 - Fentanyl amount at center of Issue 1 debate
10-29-2018 - Policy Matters Ohio supports State Issue 1
10-29-2018 - Ohio voters to decide on Issue 1
10-23-2018 - Former supreme court justice endorses Issue 1
10-21-2018 - Opinion: Municipal court judges oppose State Issue 1
10-17-2018 - Debate heats up over Ohio Issue 1
10-13-2018 - Ohio Issue 1 FAQ: What you need to know
10-11-2018 - State analysis: Issue 1 cost savings overstated
10-8-2018 - State Issue 1 facing local opposition
9-20-2018 - State Issue 1 debaters square off on Vindy.com
9-20-2018 - Gov. John Kasich says he won't vote for Issue 1
9-19-2018 - Ohio's Issue 1: Dangerous and Deadly
9-13-2018 - Issue 1 support a trap for Cordray
9-8-2018 - State Issue 1 draws fire at GOP luncheon
9-7-2018 - County officials wary of passing Issue 1
9-6-2018 - Issue One approved for ballot
9-2-2018 - County officials wary of passing Issue 1
8-14-2018 - Judges oppose drug sentencing ballot issue
8-4-2018 - Drug sentencing up for vote
Ohio's Issue 1 is not the first time that direct democracy has been used to ask voters to weigh in directly on the question of how should crimes involving small amounts of illegal drugs be classified. Below you will find resources from states whose voters have approved ballot measures that reclassified certain offenses from felonies to misdemeanors. While the details of each measure are distinct, they can provide useful background for voters faced with Issue 1.
In 2014, voters in California approved Proposition 47, which "reduces penalties for certain offenders convicted of nonserious and nonviolent property and drug crimes. The measure also allows certain offenders who have been previously convicted of such crimes to apply for reduced sentences. In addition, the measure requires any state savings that result from the measure be spent to support truancy (unexcused absences) prevention, mental health and substance abuse treatment, and victim services.” (Summary from California SOS Official Voter Information Guide)
Proposition 47 - text of ballot measure (starts on pg. 70)
Efforts to amend Proposition 47:
In the 2015 legislative session, a number of changes to Proposition 47 were proposed, but the bills either died in committee, were vetoed by the governor, or did not amend the specific provisions added by Proposition 47 and therefore did not have to go before the voters. In November 2017 an initiative entitled the “Reducing Crime and Keeping California Safe Act of 2018” was filed with the Attorney General. This initiative would change provisions of Proposition 47 and would go on the November 2020 ballot. The measure would, among other things, “A. [r]eform the parole system so violent felons are not released early from prison, strengthen oversight of post-release community supervision and tighten penalties for violations of terms of post-release community supervision; B. Reform theft laws to restore accountability for serial thieves and organized theft rings; and C. Expand DNA collection from persons convicted of drug, theft and domestic violence related crimes to help solve violent crimes and exonerate the innocent.” Initiative No. 17-0044, Amendment No. 1, Sec. 2
In November 2016, voters in the state of Oklahoma approved State Question 780 and State Question 781. State Question 780 changed some non-violent drug- and theft-related crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, thus reducing the number and duration of state prison sentences for those crimes. State Question 781 was designed to redistribute the money saved by the reduced prison costs to counties to fund rehabilitation of criminals. State Questions 780 and 781 were connected, with State Question 781 being dependent on the passage of State Question 780.
Oklahoma State Question 780 - text of the proposed initiative
Oklahoma State Question 780 - summary from Ballotpedia
Oklahoma State Question 781 - text of the proposed initiative
Oklahoma State Question 781 - summary from Ballotpedia
Oklahoma Smart Justice Reform Act (SQ 781) FY 2018 Calculations - report by OK Office of Management and Enterprise Services
Efforts to amend State Questions 780 and 781:
In March 2017, the Oklahoma House of Representatives approved a bill that would roll back some of the amendments by once again making it a felony to possess any amount of drugs within 1,000 feet of school property. The Senate version was pulled from committee consideration in April 2017.