Breaking the cycle of low-level drug charges

Mid-Ohio Valley residents have heard before “we cannot arrest our way out of this,” in reference to the substance abuse epidemic. Nevertheless, there have been plenty of arrests, some of which have no doubt saved the lives of those who were able to use an arrest and conviction as a turning point.

Ohio lawmakers are now considering a change that would help some of those folks continue to move forward.

A bill passed last week in the House of Representatives and under consideration in the state Senate allows offenders with two eligible misdemeanors and two eligible third-degree felonies to seek the sealing of their records.

Right now, offenders can have only one misdemeanor and one third-degree felony conviction to make the request. The bill would also decrease how long offenders must wait to have offenses sealed, from three years to one. It even allows judges to increase use of a program that orders treatment rather than prosecution for those facing low-level drug charges.

Those who have committed low-level non-violent and non-sexual offenses may find it easier to become employed, get housing and simply move on with their lives, should the bill become law. Politicians truly interested in finding as many ways as possible to break the cycle — break the grip of this plague — should make it happen.