BATAVIA, Ohio – The Clermont County Opiate Task Force voted to oppose Issue 1 at its meeting on Oct. 11.
The task force is comprised of stakeholders representing county government, agencies and the courts (Commissioners, Clermont County Public Health, Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board (MHRB), Municipal Court Probation, Common Pleas Court Probation, Public Defender, Children’s Protective Services, County Sheriff); Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Services; Clermont Mercy Hospital; law enforcement and fire/EMS departments; faith-based organizations and private citizens.
The Opiate Task Force’s statement declared: “The Clermont County Opiate Task Force (OTF) firmly believes that individuals with a substance use disorder benefit from treatment, and that recovery is possible. The OTF opposes this constitutional amendment because it does not address the problem as intended. Issue 1 polarizes the relationship between treatment and criminal justice, when in fact criminal justice and treatment work hand in hand to assist individuals with reaching recovery. Issue 1 will hinder the ability of the criminal justice system to work to assure that individuals who need treatment will receive it and maintain it. Along with the Clermont County Commissioners, our criminal justice partners, including the Clermont County Police Chief’s and Sheriff’s Association, and the Ohio Association of County Behavioral Health Authorities, the OTF implores the Ohio General Assembly to immediately bring together a bipartisan coalition of concerned Ohioans to take action to address the issue of increased treatment services for offenders through a legislative solution, not a constitutional amendment. The OTF strongly encourages all community members to become well informed about Issue 1.”
At the meeting, a panel including Common Pleas Judge Jerry McBride, Assistant Prosecutor Darren Miller, Sheriff Steve Leahy, Commissioners Ed Humphrey and David Painter, and Karen Scherra, Executive Director of MHRB, spoke out against Issue 1 and detailed the impact it would have on the county courts, law enforcement and the County Jail, and taxpayers.
Common Pleas Judge Jerry McBride noted that both Municipal and Common Pleas Court judges work with lesser offenders to get them into treatment instead of jail or prison. “The reality is that less and less F4s and F5s (felony offenders) go to prison every day,” he said. “For years now, the emphasis in drug possession has been on treatment.”
Karen Scherra of the Mental Health & Recovery Board said that although her board is in favor of legislative reforms, it opposes Issue 1. “We do not see treatment increasing under Issue 1,” she said. “It’s often the stick of criminal justice that gets people into treatment.” She noted that her board has worked closely with county partners in criminal justice as well as the Commissioners to come up with initiatives in the battle against the opioid problems in the county. “If this passes we will watch a system that we worked really hard to build up collapse,” she said.
On Oct.3, the Clermont County Commissioners passed a resolution opposing Issue 1.
(This article was revised on Oct. 30, 2018.)