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The Buckeye Institute: Senate Bill 66 Fulfills the Promise of the Justice Reinvestment Act

Mar 28, 2017

Institute’s Daniel Dew Testifies Before the Senate Judiciary Committee

Columbus, OHThe Buckeye Institute’s Daniel J. Dew testified today before the Ohio Senate Judiciary Committee on the criminal justice reform policies found in Senate Bill 66, sponsored by Sens. John Eklund (R) and Charleta B. Tavares (D).  Dew is the Criminal Justice Fellow at the Institute’s Legal Center.

In his testimony (click here for full testimony), Dew highlighted the importance of fulfilling the promises of the Justice Reinvestment Act, commonly known as House Bill 86.  

“House Bill 86 was supposed to curb Ohio’s growing prison population safely by providing treatment to low-level offenders suffering from drug and alcohol addiction—a policy proven to decrease recidivism and save tax dollars,” said Dew.  “A sound ‘treatment instead of conviction’ policy would allow those accused of certain low-level drug crimes to complete a substance abuse program rather than be convicted.”

Beyond the inadequate funding for treatment, Dew went on to discuss the need for a recovery process for those suffering from addiction that does not threaten prison time for every relapse.

“Ohio’s current policy does not reasonably account for the setbacks and relapses that scientific studies show should be expected of recovering addicts.  Even those addicts who ultimately return to addiction-free lives will slip-up from time to time.  State policies should reflect that reality by allowing for a recovery process that does not threaten prison for every mistake and relapse along the way,” Dew stated.  “Too many offenders were given a second chance under House Bill 86 only to lose it due to relapse.”

In concluding his testimony, Dew stressed the challenges people face after their release from prison.  “An arrest or felony conviction will often follow reformed offenders for years if not decades, affecting job prospects, education opportunities, and even where they live.  Such barriers and limits on returning to society can lead former offenders to resort to crime or government handouts, or both.  By expanding eligibility for sealing certain criminal records, the policies found in Senate Bill 66 would help to remove those obstacles and create a clearer path forward for those on the road to recovery and rehabilitation.”

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