Pubdate: Sun, 21 Apr 2002
Source: Columbus Dispatch (OH)
Copyright: 2002 The Columbus Dispatch
Author: Edward J. Orlett
Bookmark: (Treatment)


Readers of last Sunday's Dispatch editorial "Constitution abuse," on the 
Ohio Drug Treatment Initiative, should also consider:

* Ohio's Department of Rehabilitation and Correction reports it costs 
$22,000 per year to keep an individual in prison; the Ohio Department of 
Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services reported that average treatment costs 
are less than $4,000 per year. The savings will pay for the initiative and 
leave money for education, health, etc.

* Any Ohio ballot measure that appropriates money must be a constitutional 
amendment, as former governors recognized in proposing bond issues. The 
only way to guarantee funding -- and savings -- for the initiative was to 
write it as an amendment, too.

* This initiative does not decriminalize anything. It offers treatment for 
first- and second-time nonviolent drug-use offenders, but provides for 
incarceration of those who do not meet treatment requirements. Offense 
levels are not changed.

* The initiative is the logical extension of the present drug-court system. 
To expand the drug-court concept will take initial funding to achieve 
potential tax savings. Only half, or 24, of Ohio's drug courts process 
adults. In January, the state treatment system reported that 19 of the 24 
drug courts that it funds were serving a total of 1,385 clients. Last year, 
more than 6,000 Ohioans were charged with felony drug abuse or possession 
vs. the 1,500 treated through adult drug courts.

Every year, thousands of young Ohioans get a scarlet F for felony 
convictions. This disqualifies them for student loans and makes it 
difficult to find employment or become productive citizens. Ohio deserves 
drug-treatment policies that have a solid resources commitment and are not 
subject to political, financial or reactionary expediency.

Ohioans should pass this amendment.

Edward J. Orlett,

manager, Ohio Campaign For New Drug Policies, Columbus
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