An Ohio sheriff is hellbent on stuffing as many drug addicts into his jail as possible—a completely different plan than what state officials have been working toward for months.
Earlier this week, Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn told the Associated Press that he was in desperate need of additional jail space in order to compensate for the overcrowding issue caused by an influx of drug addicts. The sheriff said the jail has been forced to create makeshift medical facilities out of its booking department and other areas of the facility, including cells, to make room for the overabundance of prisoners going through opioid withdrawal.
Sheriff Wasylyshyn says rather than push the city for a decriminalization ordinance, or perhaps instead of implementing internal policies similar to what is being done in some parts of Massachusetts, he wants Wood County commissioners to expand the jail so that his department can continue locking up drug offenders.
But this cop’s draconian concept goes against the grain of the policies that state officials are hoping to implement in an effort to combat the state’s killer opioid epidemic.
In fact, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine testified before a US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs back in April that while it is necessary to continue cracking the skulls of drug dealers and heroin traffickers, the state needs to establish treatment programs for drug users rather than put them behind bars.
“We cannot arrest our way out of this problem,” DeWine said. “This takes a holistic approach. We have to have education. We have to have prevention. We have to have treatment.”
According to the Ohio Department of Health, opioid overdose claimed the lives of 3,050 people in 2015, most of which were due to fentanyl being mixed in with heroin.
Ohio is home to around 200,000 people addicted to opioids, with thousands of newborn babies being born over the past year with problems caused by mothers who used prescription painkillers during pregnancy.
As long as law enforcement is forced to deal with drug addiction rather than creating a separate agency responsible for handling addiction and mental health issues, the opioid problem is destined to spiral out of control even further, giving way to more addicts dying in jail from complications related to detox and prison overcrowding.
Let’s face it — Police officers are not equipped with the proper training and expertise to control a scourge on the health and well-being of more than 2 million people across the United States.