Issue One looms large on ballots leading up to election day

One Ohio ballot issue is not sitting well with local judges. Issue One is supposed to reduce some drug possession charges to misdemeanors. (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - One Ohio ballot issue is not sitting well with local judges.

Issue One is supposed to reduce some drug possession charges to misdemeanors.

The issue was addressed at a rally near the board of elections Sunday.

Issue One would mandate that criminal offenses of obtaining, possessing or using any drug such as fentanyl, heroin, meth, cocaine, LSD and other controlled substances cannot be classified as a felony, only a misdemeanor.

It would allow some non-violent offenders to receive 25 percent sentence reductions and would also prohibit jail time as a sentence for using or possessing drugs until the third offense within 24 months.

Thirty-two local judges say they feel Issue One is bad for the community.

Republican and democratic endorsed judges said the courts work to get addicts help. While they believe more treatment is needed they don't think Issue One will make that happen.

Those same judges also say the reductions in penalties for drug possession is wrong.

Sunday at the Get Out the Vote rally Grammy award winning singer and Ohio native John Legend was there to rally support for democrats. Legend says he supports issue one.

"People with addiction don't need to be warehoused behind bars with their problems," he said. "They need treatment. They need help. We tried the option of locking people up. It hasn't solved our opioid epidemic. It hasn't solved our opioid crisis.

"I can tell you from experience that many people who are addicted to drugs won't accept treatment the first time they're convicted of a lower level felony," said Judge Megan Shanahan. "What usually gets people into treatment is the risk of jail or prison."

Stephen Johnsongrove of the Ohio Justice and Policy Center helped write Issue One. He thinks mass incarceration and overuse of prison terms is damaging Ohio's health and safety. He believes money saved from incarceration would be used to pay for treatment. One judge says, while he thinks they are well-intentioned, at the end of the day he says the issue is misguided.

Polls open in Indiana and Kentucky Tuesday morning at 6.

Ohio voters can cast their ballots starting at 6:30 am.

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