ATR Supports Ohio Drug Sentencing Reform, Senate Bill 3

November 19, 2020

To: Members of the Ohio House Criminal Justice Committee

From: Americans for Tax Reform

Re: ATR Supports SB 3

 

Chair Lang and Members of the Committee,

On behalf of Americans for Tax Reform and our supporters across Ohio, we urge you to support and approve Senate Bill 3 (SB 3). This legislation would make Ohio safer, strengthen the economy, keep communities together, and alleviate the high cost of incarceration for taxpayers, through needed drug sentencing reform.

The opioid crisis has tragically hit Ohio hard, exposing flaws in the criminal justice system when it comes to handling drug addiction.

Currently, too many people are being incarcerated for too long for offenses that are nonviolent, and not a safety threat to the community. This can have additional consequences, including making it difficult for them to find jobs and housing.

There is no reason for truly victimless crimes to carry heavy prison sentences that in-and-of themselves can ruin someone’s life. Rather than harsh criminal penalties, many of these offenses can be better addressed with treatment, and consequences that are focused on curbing addiction.

SB 3 addresses these challenges, and more. It starts by reclassifying low-level drug offenses. For example, possession of very small quantities of marijuana would no longer be a crime, and small amounts would trigger a minor misdemeanor charge.

It requires that the state differentiate between drug traffickers who prey upon communities, and addicts who need more effective treatment. It is critical that the thresholds for what constitutes a trafficking offense, and what remains a felony, are not weakened to the point that an individual caught using a moderate amount of heroin is charged with a trafficking offense. That would undermine a critical goal of these reforms, and keep the failed status quo.

Traffickers should and will receive the harsh criminal penalties they deserve. Yet, there will be more avenues for addicts to receive treatment, as more are sent to drug courts better equipped to address their issues.

SB 3 opens expungement to people who have already been convicted of low-level possession, helping those who have shown they can stay on the straight-and-narrow fully rejoin and contribute to society. By addressing the cycle that sees one-third of offenders go to jail, leave, then come back within three years, SB 3 promises to reduce costs paid by taxpayers. 

ATR strongly urges you to approve Senate Bill 3. If we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me, or State Projects Director Doug Kellogg at 202-785-0266, or [email protected]

Thank you,

Grover G. Norquist

President

Americans for Tax Reform