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Zach Klein, Ron O'Brien Announce Alternative To Issue 1

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein and Franklin County prosecutor Ron O'Brien.

Columbus City Attorney Zach Klein and Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien have come out against Issue 1, arguing their own plan is more effective.

Issue 1 intends to reduce prison sentences and drug possession penalties so people addicted to drugs can seek treatment.

“We’re proposing to get rid of mandatory sentencing for drug possession cases except for major drug offenders,” Klein says. “Because those are the cartel-type folks that should be in a jail for a long time.”

The proposal has brought together two former rivals: Klein unsuccessfully challenged O'Brien in 2016 for the prosecutor seat.

But Klein says they agree that the proposed ballot issue doesn't do enough.

“We actually I think go further than Issue 1 by allowing folks with previous convictions who are out of the system completely to seal their records, because we know the collateral sanctions associated with having a felony or the stigma of having a felony as it relates to housing and employment are significant barriers to many people in our community,” Klein says.

Klein says Issue 1 limits judges' options to incentivize treatment.

“Issue 1 basically negates and takes away the ability of drug courts and the successful programs or drug courts that we’ve seen right here in our community,” Klein says.

If Issue 1 fails, Klein and O'Brien's proposal could be a priority bill at the start of the next General Assembly in January. They submitted the proposal to Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof last week.

Adora Namigadde was a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU News in February 2017. A Michigan native, she graduated from Wayne State University with a B.A. in Broadcast Journalism and a minor in French.