As the police chief of Newtown in Hamilton County, a police officer for over 20 years, and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, I’ve dedicated my life to serving my community and country. I know the addiction epidemic in our state is one of the most critical and complex public health and social issues of our time. After seeing an entire family die from addiction, an entire generation of brothers lost and grandparents raising the kids left behind, I have realized that what we have done in the past needs to change. Senate Bill 3 gives us an opportunity to chart a new path.
Newtown is a place where everyone knows each other, and it’s proof that drug addiction does not discriminate based on your income, ZIP code, race, age, or political beliefs. Too often, our justice system responds to the waves of addiction sweeping our communities by arresting and charging people with felonies for low-level drug possession. Saddling people who have substance abuse problems with felony records is not a solution that will get us out of this crisis.
All of the evidence shows us that responding to minor drug possession with felony charges and incarceration only worsens the drug problem. A felony conviction often lands people in prison, where they are less likely to receive life-saving treatment or recovery. They are often released worse off than when they came in.