SB 15 does two things. First, the bill requires the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction to study the practicality of converting an existing facility, whether state or privately owned, into a substance abuse recovery prison. The purpose of this specialized prison would be to help reduce relapses and reoffending while preparing offenders for reentry into the community. The study will explore the different kinds of treatment and services to be provided in the prison, as well as what types of offenders would occupy the prison.
Second, the bill requires the General Assembly to consider expanding Ohio’s Addiction Treatment Pilot Project, which created drug courts in five Ohio counties. Drug courts serve as alternatives to traditional court, and allow eligible offenders to avoid prison, as long as they commit to court-sponsored treatment and oversight, while remaining drug-free for a specified period.
LCS Legislation Status
Our Take on This Bill
The ACLU of Ohio supports efforts to address addiction using treatment, rather than punishment. Though a specialized prison for drug addiction may be preferable to a traditional prison, the ACLU of Ohio is ultimately committed to working towards a treatment based solution to addiction. A public health problem such as addiction requires a treatment based solution. It is also crucial that any specialized drug prison be run by the state of Ohio and not a private entity.
The ACLU of Ohio also supports drug courts, if implemented correctly. In order to provide the greatest due process protection, an individual should not be required to plead guilty in order to participate. Drug courts should also adequately account for relapses, which should be met with more treatment and not punishment. Additionally, drug courts need to benefit all individuals equally, regardless of race. Therefore, any drug court expansion should include objective admissions criteria. Finally, the expansion should include quarterly reports which document the demographics of drug court participants, to help ensure all individuals are participating equally.
Introduced in the Senate on 2/2/15
Referred to the Senate Government Oversight & Reform Committee on 2/4/15
Government Oversight and Reform (S)