Shocking Overdose Numbers Released, And Battling Mental Illness Behind Bars

The state has released its newest numbers on drug overdose deaths. The number went from 3050 in 2015 to 4,050 last year – that’s 11 a day.  However, the dangerous drug fentanyl, which is often mixed with heroin, cocaine and other drugs, was involved with more than half of them. Doctors can no longer prescribe powerful painkillers for longer than seven days for adults and five days for kids. Rules proposed earlier this year are now in effect, and Gov. John Kasich urges for doctors to realize the part they can play in reducing opioid addiction in Ohio.

With the school year starting and many controversial issues on the left and the right to discuss, debate and protest, people have been talking about free speech on college campuses. Two conservative Republican state lawmakers have come up with a new bill that they say will insure all points of view are represented at Ohio’s public universities. Statehouse correspondent Jo Ingles has details.

The Democratic downticket races are filled up, now that former eastern Ohio Congressman Zack Space says he’s in the race for auditor.  There's no word on whether former attorney general and current head of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Richard Cordray would join the four Democrats already in the race for governor.

In most of Ohio, the kids are back in school, and more than 800,000 of them ride buses to class each day. Figuring out the most efficient and most cost-effective way to do that is a complex equation. And it’s become more important now with student transportation taking a big hit in the new state budget. Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow talked to some experts about getting those kids to and from school quickly, safely and economically.

Ohio’s next execution is less than two weeks away. There are 26 men who are set to be executed over the next three years. And a new report from Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project shows almost two thirds of them suffered serious childhood trauma, 42% have other impairments such as brain injuries, and nearly a quarter of them are mentally ill. The number of mentally ill people in prisons and in local jails is staggering.One effort to try to find ways to lower those numbers at the local level – both to save money and to get people the help they need – is the national Stepping Up initiative. Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, a longtime advocate for mental health resources in the criminal justice system, is the project director of Ohio’s Stepping Up program. Michael Daniels is the Justice Policy Advisor for the Board of Commissioners of Franklin County, which was one of the first counties in America to join the program and hosted its national conference last month.

The Justice Action Network is a national group that advocated for changes to Ohio’s justice system to deal with mentally ill inmates, overcrowding and other issues. Holly Harris is its executive director.

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