Taking a look at Issue 1 before next month’s election

Local News

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It’s not just the candidates drawing wide differences of opinion among voters ahead of November elections. 

Even though many may agree that prison reform and sentence reductions for non-violent drug offenders could be a solution to prison overcrowding and the battle over the opioid epidemic, the similarities end there when talking Issue 1. 

The proposed constitutional amendment will be decided by voters next month. 

It would downgrade some drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors while reducing jail sentences for non-violent offenders by an estimated 25 percent. 

Former Franklin County Judge Scott Vanderkarr was on the frontline of the war on drugs for more than 20 years. He started the county’s mental health court, heroin court and drug court. 

He says overall changes do need to be made, and opponents of Issue 1 agree on that. 

But Vanderkarr says what’s proposed in Issue 1 makes a problem worse. 

“I think there’s some people that just get caught on that treatment versus prison and they don’t look deeper into what it’s going to do the criminal justice system and how it’s actually going to make it worse,” said Vanderkarr. 

Molly Shack supports Issue 1 and says lowered sentences and rehabilitation are desperately needed to reverse the growing issue of opioid abuse. 

“Issue 1 does not touch any trafficking all of those charges remain the same. We’re talking about personal use possession. We’re talking about people who are addicted and getting them treatment first,” said Shack. 

That Issue 1 is a proposed constitutional amendment is also dividing voters and lawmakers. Some feel that is reason enough to vote against Issue 1, because it may be difficult to modify or update down the road. 

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