It's no secret that heroin is a growing problem in Ohio. Not only is the drug more readily available than ever before, but the face of heroin addiction has shifted to middleclass suburbia. Heroin has people talking, and it seems like everyone has something different to say about how to fight it.
In a recent news article, one prosecutor explained his support for a holistic approach to combat addiction. Athens County Prosecutor Keller Blackburn said that treating addiction, not just punishing crimes, gives people a better outlook on life which can benefit the whole community.
Crime must be punished – that's a given, but many are realizing that punishment alone is not enough to combat a growing drug problem. In fact, many drug offenders' heroin use continues and can even worsen in prison. If there is any hope for combatting the heroin problem in Ohio, the justice system needs to use a comprehensive, holistic approach.
In the article, Blackburn made five major suggestions.
- More officers, less heroin on the streets – With more officers in the field combatting the growing drug problem, more heroin can be taken off the streets. When heroin is less available, addicts are more likely to seek help.
- Drug rehabilitation programs – Recovery houses and other drug rehabilitation programs are vital in the fight against heroin. Heroin crimes won't stop until the demand for heroin is gone.
- Sentencing reform – Sentences for heroin offenses should be decided on more of a case-by-case basis, rather than having sweeping sentencing guidelines. This way, prosecutor's and judges can use greater discernment to decide which offenders would be helped by treatment and which deserve punishment.
- Amending heroin laws – In many cases, selling Oxycodone (a prescription painkiller) is a more severe offense than selling heroin, which can encourage selling heroin.
- Combatting property crimes – In many cases, property crimes and drug offenses are linked. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 85 percent of all crime is affiliated with drugs. Athens County plans to implement a property crimes task force to supplement the drug units.
There are many phases of the heroin problem, which is why it is necessary to combat it from all angles, holistically.