By KATHRYNE RUBRIGHT
State Issue 1 is the wrong kind of criminal justice reform, Republican state auditor candidate Keith Faber said Wednesday in a visit to The Courier.
“You don’t do criminal justice reform by having people draft a constitutional amendment in California and put it in the (Ohio) Constitution, where, when we find unintended consequences — which we already have during the campaign — it can’t be fixed without another constitutional amendment,” Faber said.
The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, owned by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan, who reside in California, has donated $1 million toward passage of Issue 1.
Under Issue 1, judges would not be able to sentence people to jail for drug possession until their third offense in two years. Also, probation violations would not result in jail time, unless the violation was a new crime.
The amendment would also reduce fourth- and fifth-degree felony drug possession charges to misdemeanors. Those previously convicted of such felonies could petition courts for their convictions to be reduced to misdemeanors.
Any money saved by having fewer people in prison would go toward crime victim and drug treatment programs.
Faber, a former probation officer, said “both the carrot and the stick” are needed for offenders. “Issue 1 takes the stick away,” he said.
Faber also praised the state’s current drug court system, saying it would be weakened by Issue 1.
He said that making possession of 19.99 grams or less of fentanyl into a “no-jail misdemeanor, little more than a traffic ticket, is crazy.”
The amendment’s language notes that provisions reclassifying drug possession charges to misdemeanors “do not apply to convictions for the sale, distribution, or trafficking of drugs.”
Faber agreed that someone who possesses 19 grams of fentanyl is dealing the drug, but said the dealing charge is harder to prove.
“The only purpose of that (amount) is, frankly, to deal. But you can’t use that, in and of itself, as evidence of dealing,” Faber said.
Faber said that as state auditor he would increase transparency by adding more information to the state’s online checkbook, started by Treasurer Josh Mandel.
“The online checkbook’s good, but it only shows you who the checks were written to. It doesn’t tell you why the checks were written,” Faber said.
He also wants to provide relief of audit costs for small entities like library boards.
Performance audits of state agencies should be completed more frequently, Faber said. Currently, a state agency gets a performance audit “about every 13 years” because only two are done each year.
Faber, of Celina, has served in both the Ohio House and Senate, and was Senate president for four years.
He is running against Zack Space, a Democrat who represented Ohio’s 18th House District in Congress for two terms.
Send an E-mail to kathrynerubright