Local group pushes for drug treatment instead of incarceration - WFMJ.com News weather sports for Youngstown-Warren Ohio

Local group pushes for drug treatment instead of incarceration

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The Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative has joined a statewide campaign to end mass incarceration in Ohio.

The group hopes to build support for a statewide fair hiring policy, to give returning citizens the right to petition and shift state funding from incarceration to education and drug treatment.

Nearly 30 years ago, Akim Lattermore of Youngstown was sentenced to prison for aggravated robbery, a crime she committed to help fuel her drug habit.

"I was addicted.  I was hoping to be able to get some money, so I could keep on getting high, you know, that's when you are active in your addiction. That's what you do," said Lattermore.

In Ohio, about 30,000 people are arrested each year for drug related offenses, yet, very little money is set aside for education and rehabilitation.   In 2014, Ohio will spend nearly $2 billion dollars on housing inmates, approximately 90 percent of that money will go toward incarceration, about two percent will going toward rehabilitation.

"I did five years.  I didn't have any counseling.  I didn't have any drug treatment.  I didn't know anything about the 12 steps. There is nothing there for the inmate to help them stand on their two feet when they get out," said Lattermore.

She is hopeful campaigns like the one the Mahoning Valley Organizing Collaborative has jumped on board with will change that, "I know now that you don't have to just ship a person off, and lock them up, and throw away the key. When you can help that person get their thought process correct, you can help that person rehabilitate and they won't make the same mistakes."

Mistakes that in the end will cost everyone involved more.
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