The new administration has said tackling the opiod epidemic is a priority. Citizens in Ohio are debating a new state budget bill that could keep heroin dealers out of prison for the sake of treatment. According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, state Auditor Dave Yost argues that the Targeted Community Alternatives to Prison (TCAP) provision is harmful while advocates say that treatment, not incarceration, is the solution to drug addiction.
The provision aims to keep low-level, non-violent felony offenders out of prison, which includes trafficking heroin. According to the TCAP website, some 4,100 (of nearly 20,000 individuals) were sent to prison last year for these low-level offenses. The provision underscores the need for "essential treatment they need at the community level" as a way to quell the epidemic.
The Columbus Dispatch reports that those who have committed violent or sexual offenses would be ineligible to be released. In a letter in April, Yost shared that the program might let serious criminals free. He cited crimes like money laundering in support of terrorism, serial forgery, and impaired driving that injures children (all non-sexual, fifth-degree felonies) that would fall under the provision.
Per the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, Yost argues that the provision requires more vetting and should be removed from the budget. The state's two-year budget is due June 30.