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Government & Politics

Mother Says Jailing Her Son Could Have Saved His Life

LINDA CHAMBERS
ANDY CHOW
/
OHIO PUBLIC RADIO
Linda Chambers holds a picture of her son, Scottie Childers, who died of an opioid overdose in January 2017.

A mother says her son would still be alive if the state had a law that sent people back to jail if they fail a drug test while on parole. Currently, probation officers can use their judgment. But a bill would take that discretion away.

Scottie Childers tested positive for fentanyl one day last January while on probation. Four hours after that test, he died of an overdose.

His mother, Linda Chambers, is angry that his probation officer didn’t send Childers straight to jail. Now she supports a bill that would automatically put an ex-offender back behind bars if they test positive for opioids.

“If there was no discretion he would’ve went to jail and he would’ve been in jail four hours later. He wouldn’t have been able to use four hours later and pass away," Chambers said.

Opponents say addicts should go to treatment, not jail and argue that discretion is needed because not every case is the same.

The bill does spell out that an offender can go to treatment instead, but due to a lack of availability jail would be the most likely destination.