You may have heard the phrase “Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child”
– but does “sparing the rod” aka “foregoing discipline”
really do more harm than good? Many in Ohio are arguing that the best
way to combat the
heroin problem is to offer treatment in lieu of prison.
Many drug offenders in Ohio are also addicts with deeper problems, problems
that imprisonment isn’t really equipped to address. By sending drug
offenders to prison without treatment, recidivism rates have worsened
– meaning more drug offenders are getting out of prison and ending
right back in a short time later.
The number of heroin overdose deaths is also on the rise in the Buckeye
State. While tragic, these deaths have helped light a fire under state
legislators to find solutions. While legislators have an increased sense
of urgency to combat the problem, many are concerned that their efforts
Legislators are considering a bill that would increase criminal penalties
for heroin possession, putting drug offenders in prison for longer periods
and also making it easier to put people away for “major drug offenses.”
The bill, H.B. 171, already cleared the lower chamber last year by a wide margin.
If passed, H.B. 171 would make possession of 100 grams of heroin or more
a “major drug offense,” reduced from the current threshold
of 250 grams. Currently, there is a mandatory 11-year sentence for major
Opponents of the bill argue that it uses the same tactics to combat drug
crimes that have been in use for decades with little to no positive effect.
They claim that legislators need to be doing more to fund addiction services
so that drug offenders can receive treatment rather than harsh prison
The heroin problem in Ohio and elsewhere in the United States comes down
to basic economics – supply and demand. Until we address the “demand”
side of the problem, drug offenses and overdose deaths will continue to
be a problem. Let’s put our public resources where they can do the
most good. Treating addicts can reduce the demand, which can in turn reduce
the number of overall offenses.