Local authorities weigh in on House Bill 96

At treatment centers like Sojourner Recovery Services in Hamilton, one of their main missions is to reintegrate drug and alcohol offenders back into society through preventative therapy and counseling.

"We house them, we educate them, we put them in the position to practice those skill sets to become eventually productive members of society taxpayers," said Director of Operations Darryle Short.
Short supports the House Bill 96, which would divert non-violent offenders from state prisons to community programs, such as their facility, because he says it promote prevention over punishment.
"When you lock somebody up, they don't have the opportunity to practice any skill sets, we put them in a position to get out there in society, while we not only educate them but allow them to deal with their nemesis," Short said.
With a potential $78 million annual savings to tax payers, Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser agrees that the state prison system should secure only the most violent offenders.
" I would prefer that less violent offenders be treated elsewhere, then in state institutions," Gmoser said.
But Gmoser also says the classification of non-violent vs. violent offenders needs be governed by strict guidelines, and he recognizes that treatment isn't always the only answer to curb crime.
"I consider a habitual drunk drinker to be a violent offender, instituting some program that would give him or her credit to come out early, may not be in the public's best interest if the program really isn't proven to be effective," Gmoser said.
The bill also would eliminate differences in punishments for convictions involving crack and powdered cocaine and require that probation officers be trained with statewide standards.
The legislation was approved by the House last month. It is among changes lawmakers are debating to save money through reduced prison costs.

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