Alliance for Safety and Justice

COLUMBUS -- The Alliance for Safety and Justice will launch a statewide advertising campaign this weekend in support of reforming how Ohio's justice system responds to drug addiction and drug sentencing.

Partnering with the Buckeye Institute and Law Enforcement Action Partnership, the campaign will begin with a 60-second commercial during the Ohio State-Michigan and the Cleveland Browns-Pittsburgh Steelers football games.

The ad details the story of a Seville, Ohio, father who lost his son to an overdose after receiving a felony conviction for low-level, simple drug possession.

In addition to running during this weekend's football games, the multi-week campaign will also display the video in support of Ohio Senate Bill 3 to millions of Ohioans through digital online and mobile platforms.

The ad features Charles “Chip” Jenkins narrating the experience of his son, Alex, who struggled with addiction. Despite recovering and seeking to turn his life around, Alex was ultimately unable to overcome the barriers of his past felony conviction and fatally relapsed. Jenkins also testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in favor of the bill in May.

“Alex was sick, he wasn’t a dangerous person,” Jenkins said about his son in the ad. “That's why we need Senate Bill 3, which reclassifies low-level drug possession...so Ohioans with addiction can get treatment, not felonies. We must stop this cycle and start treating addiction like a public health issue because no family should ever experience what we’ve been through.”

Senate Bill 3 reclassifies low-level drug possession to a misdemeanor so Ohioans can get treatment in communities and not have their recovery undermined by the immense barriers associated with a felony conviction.

According to the latest data from the Center for Disease Control's National Center for Health Statistics, Ohio had the second highest overdose death rate of any state in the nation.

“Ohioans are suffering because our current laws continued an approach that is counterproductive and perpetuating a crisis,” said Shakrya Diaz, Ohio State Director of the Alliance for Safety and Justice. “

"Ohio leaders are appropriately uniting to advance solutions, like Senate Bill 3, to ensure we effectively respond to addiction with treatment and stop wasting public safety resources and harming communities across our state," Diaz said.

Robert Alt, president and chief executive officer of the Buckeye Institute, stated: "Employment is one of the best indicators of addiction recovery, and by reclassifying low-level drug possession from a felony to a misdemeanor, Ohio can remove one of the largest impediments to gainful employment for a fragile population. It's the right thing to do and economically beneficial."

Senate Bill 3 has bipartisan support, including from Senate President Larry Obhof, the lead sponsor Sen. John Eklund and senators Nathan Manning, Sean O’Brien and Cecil Thomas, among others.

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