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Ohio Lawmakers May Strengthen Punishment for Heroin Possession

February 24, 2016 | Written by Dan Margolis

These days, more and more experts and lawmakers are moving toward considering reducing harsh prison sentences for low-level drug offenses. Many agree that things like mandatory minimum sentences do little to deal with drug addiction and have led to massive overcrowding in U.S. prisons.

But not everybody agrees that strict punishment for non-violent drug offenders is a bad solution. A bill before the Ohio Senate’s Criminal Justice Committee would buck the trends and expand the number of offenders who get the maximum sentence for heroin possession.

Currently, someone convicted of possessing 250 grams of heroin in Ohio faces a maximum of 11 years in prison and being classified as a “major drug offender.” If passed, the bill would drastically lower the threshold from 250g to 100g. The bill passed the House last year.

Supporters claim making the law harsher is necessary due to growing heroin problems in Ohio. According to WDTN-TV, which recently reported on the bill, 1,177 people died of heroin-related overdoses in 2014, a state record.

The State Public Defender’s Office says this terrible figure suggests that Ohioans struggling with heroin addiction need greater access to treatment and services. The department opposes the bill.

If this bill becomes law, many more people in Ohio could find themselves facing more than a decade behind bars. We advise anyone arrested on drug charges to exercise their right not to speak to the police until they have a defense attorney present. It is the police’s job to extract a confession, and you need someone knowledgeable about the law on your side.

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