You may have heard that Gov. Mike DeWine of Ohio recently signed several laws designed to reform the state’s criminal law system. The laws are partly aimed at easing harsh penalties for people convicted of nonviolent crimes, including juvenile offenders.
In the past several years, more and more people have recognized that criminal laws that impose strong penalties for nonviolent offenses often do more harm than good. Many times, a person convicted of drug possession or trafficking is struggling with addiction. Treating an addict the same as a person with a history of violent crimes does little to deal with the root problem and can cause the convict to re-offend.
Addiction treatment instead of imprisonment
As part of a series of bills, the Ohio Legislature passed House Bill 1 (HB1), which will expand addiction treatment opportunities as an alternative to a felony conviction. “People who commit crimes — nonviolent offenses — because of the fact that they’re an addict, we all want them to succeed,” DeWine said. “We want them to get clean, stay clean and be good members of society.”
Other changes in HB1
Once it goes into effect later this year, HB1 will:
- Shorten the process of sealing the conviction record of thousands of Ohioans
- Reduce incarceration for technical probation violations
- Bans the shackling of pregnant prisoners
Another bill DeWine signed into law reduces “collateral sanctions,” which are punishments beyond incarceration, fines and traditional penalties. Collateral sanctions make it difficult for people with certain convictions on their record to find a place to live, go to college, get a driver’s license and more.
What to do about drug charges
While the current trend is making Ohio’s criminal laws more humane, there are still stiff penalties on the books for many drug crimes. Someone arrested on drug charges in Portage County needs professional legal help from an experienced defense attorney.