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LETTER TO THE EDITOR

 

Issue 1 in Ohio Would Restore Civil Rights

 

The War on Drugs has disproportionately hurt Latinos and African-Americans, who are more likely to be arrested and incarcerated than white people if found using drugs. I believe Issue 1, a constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in Ohio on November 6, would help change this and give a second chance to non-violent offenders in minority communities who are charged with drug possession or drug use.

 

Racial and ethnic populations face discrimination at every stage of the criminal justice system – they are stopped, searched, arrested and convicted at higher rates than Caucasian people. And when it comes to drug crimes, Latinos and African-Americans are more likely to receive mandatory minimum sentences than Caucasians convicted of the same offenses.

 

Unsurprisingly, the War on Drugs continues to punish drug users long after they have served their sentence through policies that deny felons employment opportunities and access to business loans, student aid and public housing. This means Latinos and African-Americans continue to pay for their past mistakes long after they leave prison.

 

Issue 1 would change this because it would reclassify fourth- and fifth-degree felonies for possessing or using drugs to misdemeanors. If passed, people who are currently incarcerated could be released and people with previous convictions could have them reclassified, opening up many opportunities for Ohioans who are currently registered as felons, including the ability to find jobs, provide for their families, and positively contribute to society.

 

We can never take back the damage the War on Drugs has done to our communities, but we can make sure people who are still disenfranchised by it are given a second chance. Issue 1 is a step toward achieving that. On Election Day, I urge La Prensa’s readers in Ohio to vote yes.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Charleta B. Tavares

State Senator, Ohio Senate District 15 and Ohio Senate Assistant Minority Leader

 
Copyright © 1989 to 2018 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 10/23/18 12:38:23 -0700.

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