Tell Niraj Antani, we can’t arrest our way out of the opioid crisis!

Local state Rep. Niraj Antani is pushing a bill that would require people on parole or probation who test positive for illegal opioids be jailed or sent to a 30-day residential drug treatment program.

Jailing someone for a drug offense might not sound controversial, but House Bill 457 does not include additional funding for jails or drug treatment programs.

Without adding to our capacity to treat those addicted to opioids, this cruel approach does nothing to address the causes of the crisis, nor does it improve outcomes for jailed offenders.

Lori Criss, chief executive of the Ohio Council of Behavioral Health and Family Services Providers, says Ohioans need access to immediate services and long-term drug treatment.

Criss said Antani’s solution would keep people from immediately accessing opiates and could kick start recovery. But, she said, it may create more problems: further overload jails, eliminate the discretion to find the best response to someone’s addiction crisis, give false hope to family members, and treat opioid addictions differently than addictions to other drugs such as cocaine or alcohol.

“It may just delay relapse,” she said. “Addiction is a chronic disease and requires a long-term plan that incorporates a variety of physical, psychological and social strategies for success.”

Today, call Rep. Antani at (614) 466-6504.

Script:

“Hi, My name is [NAME] and I’m calling from [ADDRESS].  I am disappointed with Rep. Antani’s bill, HB 457.  We can not simply stuff our jails full of people suffering from addiction.  This bill does little to improve the long term outcomes of those suffering from addiction, but it could endanger them in the short term because of overcrowding in jails, and lack of access to immediate treatment.  Mr. Antani should address the causes of the opioid crisis, not the symptoms.

If you live in a different House District, look up your state legislator here, and call them to ask that they NOT support this bill.

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