A Dayton-area pastor who had recorded radio ads in support of Issue 1 on Monday reversed course, saying he no longer backs the measure, which will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Greg Delaney had been Ohio justice director for the Christian Coalition of America. And he appeared in a $45,000 radio buy on country music and religious stations extolling Issue 1, a proposed constitutional amendment that seeks to reduce prison populations and use the money saved to add treatment capacity in the face of Ohio's opioid crisis.
On Monday, Delaney said he has left his paid position with the Christian Coalition and had asked that supporters of Issue 1 stop running the ad after Friday. He said the measure initially sounded good, with provisions to lower penalties for drug possession. But he said the proposal didn't look so good to him as he researched it further.
"I learned that it is highly unlikely the funding stream for treatment promised in Issue 1 will happen," Delaney said. "In fact, Issue 1 could prove costly. Also, if passed, Issue 1 would require that possession of drugs that are regularly killing Ohioans, such as fentanyl, could be viewed as misdemeanors and prohibit jail time unless someone has more than two offenses within 24 months."
In response to Delaney's change of heart, the Christian Coalition reiterated its support for Issue 1.
"We cannot incarcerate our way out of an epidemic of this nature," spokesman Keith den Hollander said in a written statement. "These are not bad people trying to be good, they are sick people trying to get well. Giving them a path to treatment and recovery so that they can achieve that wellness is consistent with our faith and values."