Ohio bill would put relapsing addicts in treatment or jail


Linda Chambers took long deep breaths as she prepared to speak before state lawmakers Tuesday.

"It's surreal that I'm here," she said.

Chambers was joined by her husband and family as she testified at the Statehouse in favor of HB 457. The proposed law is named after her son, Scottie, who died from an overdose in January 2017.

"He was wonderful," Linda said with a smile. "He was sweet and kind, and funny."

Scottie was the oldest of four boys and the father of 5 little girls. His addiction to painkillers led to an addiction to heroin.

"It was tough to watch the change in him and see the control that it had over him," said Chambers.

While battling his addiction, Scottie was arrested for possession of a narcotic. He spent a few months in jail before going to rehab.

"He came out strong and clean, and he looked like the old Scottie," she said with optimism.

But soon after rehab Scottie relapsed and tested positive for heroin during a routine check-in with his probation officer.

Instead of being reported, Scottie was allowed to go home without repercussion.

"The probation officers have discretion whether they want to violate or not," said Chambers.

Four hours after that visit, Scottie died from an overdose.

Chambers says had Scottie probation officer violated his parole he son would still be alive.

So, Chambers is fighting for HB 457 to pass at the Ohio Statehouse. If approved, relapsed drug addicts would automatically be sent to jail or treatment for up to 30 days.

"I know that jails are overcrowded. I know that treatment centers... there's just not enough. But, something's gotta give somewhere," she said while wiping away tears.

The law would only apply to parolees who fail a drug test for heroin, fentanyl, or carfentanil.

A date for when the bill will be voted on has not yet been released.