As we debate the role of police in our community, there is a case for reducing funding for the Athens Police Department and the Sheriff’s Office. The case primarily rests on the justice system’s failure to reduce drug activity in our nation, state, city and county which is an expensive undertaking. At great expense, what we do is arrest and prosecute those selling and using drugs. Immediately others move forward to fill those selling and using role. Our current approach in no way reduces the selling and using drugs. Why do we continue to pay for a service that has no impact ?

In 2001 Portugal decriminalized all drugs including heroin and cocaine. Instead they focused on education and treatment. Like the rest of the world Portugal has had a rise in drug use but as a percentage considerably less than the United States and considerably less than Ohio. Let’s move the money used for the Athens ‘drug war’ and move it to humanely treating addicts including those who sell. It eliminates the need for incarceration which is perhaps the biggest cost of all, both for the physical incarceration and the loss of any productivity for the individual.

Our system of justice in this area is a complete failure. This is one more area where Oho and the United States might move into the 21st century.

Mike Chapman


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