Ohio has been hit hard by the heroin epidemic. A new University of Cincinnati study says one in five Ohio residents knows someone who is struggling with heroin. One sheriff told us that up to 80 percent of the prisoners in his county jail have drugs in their system, largely heroin. 60 Minutes took note of the ways Ohio is innovating in its judicial system to give heroin addicts a chance to avoid the stigma of a criminal conviction and access treatment. In the interview, Ohio Attorney General Mike Dewine states the obvious, “We cannot arrest our way out of this problem.” In the episode you see how Ohio has established “DRUG COURTS.” The intervention works. If a person stays drug free and follows the rules, they can walk away without a record.
The story also shows how local prosecutors have an incredible amount of discretion in choosing how to charge individuals. We hear the horror story of a person charged with 23 felonies for being an addict. The Hardin County Prosecutor is shown as the example of a drug warrior who has no compassion or understanding for the addiction. He states, “We don’t give anybody a free pass.”
I have been involved as a Board Member of TCN-BHS, Greene County’s alcohol and drug treatment provider for the past two decades. I have also given multiple speeches across the country about the dangers of fighting a War on Drugs. For so long I lost hope, but stories such as this demonstrate that we can do better. Locally, we even have drug courts that have adopted the “treatment” approach instead of continuing the “lock them up and throw away the key” mentality of the last generation. We also see around us the devastation wrought by our failed approaches. This new awareness is leading to legislation to decriminalize and/or legalize the use of marijuana.
If you or a loved on is struggling with addiction, give me a call and we can talk about resources available in the area. If you are accused of a drug crime or a drugged driving charge, give me a call to provide you with the best possible defense. (937) 318-1384 or 888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263).