Pubdate: Mon,  9 Sep 2002
Source: Press, The (OH)
Copyright: 2002 The Press, Metro Press
Author: Jim White
Bookmark: (Treatment)


To the Editor,

Chris Redfern's editorial last week included several misleading and false 
statements. The Ohio Drug treatment Initiative does not tie the hands of 
judges, no more than Mr. Redferns preferred method of mandatory minimum 
sentencing does. In fact the amendment restores judiciary discretion. Nor 
is it an "untested system", drug treatment has been around for decades and 
has proven to be ten times more effective than prison, in reducing drug abuse.

Mr. Redfern warns us that the cost would outweigh the benefits, but he does 
so without taking into consideration that the money saved by sending 
non-violent drug users to treatment instead of jail, will result in a 
projected savings of hundreds of millions of tax dollars, that can then be 
better spent on education.

Mr. Redferns threat that Ohio would have to cut funding for services and 
education and raise taxes to cover the cost of the treatment is deceitful, 
treatment costs an average of $3,000 annually, while prison costs an 
average of $23,000 per annum, a savings of $20,000 for each case.

Also, the initiative does not apply to violent felons or anyone that has 
been convicted of a violent crime within the last five years, so Mr. 
Redferns assertion that violent felons will be eligible for the program are 
completely false.

These scare tactics were designed to influence the uninformed so anyone who 
wishes to read the actual text of the amendment, and become an informed 
citizen may do so on the internet at

Mr. Redfern has served Northwest Ohio for many years, however on this issue 
he has chosen to serve a well funded special interest group, organized by 
governor Bob Taft, (in violation of Ohio law) hell bent on increasing the 
prison population of Ohio, as well as maintaining a failed system of 
treating drug abuse as a criminal problem rather than the health and social 
problem it is.

For nearly six decades our country has waged a war on drug users and the 
result has been, 6.6 million people behind bars or on probation, our nation 
leads the world in incarcerating it's own citizens. Each day 1,600 
convicted felons are released and returned to the streets, most 
unemployable, most having been convicted of a drug offense, many still 
addicted to the drugs they were arrested for using.

Mr. Redfern has chosen to side with a small group of people dedicated to 
incarcerate, rather than educate, to harm rather than to heal, to persecute 
and prosecute, he should be ashamed to be associated with such a group. 
They may have good intentions, but just because the road to prison is 
paved, doesn't mean we have to stay on path to nowhere.

We have engaged in the prosecution of drug abusers long enough to know that 
it has not been to the benefit of either the addicts or to society, and the 
time has come for a renewed effort to heal our brothers, sisters and 
children, our mothers and fathers, because they are the people we imprison.

Jim White
Oregon, Ohio
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