Although permitted to do so, it’s highly unusual for judges to come forward with opinions on ballot issues. Issue 1 is different. Because it would do irreparable harm to Ohio’s justice system, our judges are speaking out across the state, and across party lines, to explain and educate voters.

Like a land mine triggered to spew harm in many directions, Issue 1 contains a volatile collection of explosive flaws, chief among them a retreat from sensible drug laws.

Issue 1 would abolish all jail for possession of all dangerous drugs until a third conviction within two years. Drug possession felonies would become misdemeanors. This is true even if the drugs include fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and date rape drugs.

The risk of incarceration is the key component that motivates drug abusers to take part in drug court. Judges want nothing more than success for substance abusers. Judges want them to get treatment, obtain sobriety and recover their lives, families and self-respect. This is why our state has 170 Ohio Supreme Court-certified drug courts. Treatment is always preferable to incarceration.

It takes time, at least a year and often more, for the recovery process to work for the addicted. Voluntary participation in treatment programs has a high rate of failure. Court-ordered treatment can achieve over a 70 percent success rate. But Issue 1 would take away the incentive for an addict to go to drug court because there would be little consequence if one does not participate in treatment.

There is no incentive, no accountability and certainly no consequence for ignoring a judge’s order to enroll in treatment. Instead of helping drug users, as Issue 1 proponents claim, the effect would be the opposite. Abusers will not get help, and they will die.

To make matters worse, Issue 1 is a proposed constitutional amendment, which means it would be written in stone. The only way to change any part of it would be through another amendment, which is a difficult and lengthy process. Our legislature couldn’t pass enough laws to fix what’s wrong with Issue 1.

Issue 1 would make permanent reductions in the penalties for all crimes except murder, rape and child molestation. It would severely limit the power of judges to revoke probation for all felons, violent and nonviolent, for repeated probation violations.

Opposition to Issue 1 by state and local elected officials is overwhelming. These are the public officials you have chosen to administer justice and protect your families and community. Your judges studied the amendment carefully before putting their personal reputations on the line by asking you to vote no on Issue 1.

I, along with all judges, urge you to vote. Please read the ballot language of Issue 1 and vote no. I have faith that our judges are succeeding in their education efforts.

Judges know all too well the consequences of this proposal: a broken system of justice and a repudiation of care, treatment and redemption for drug abusers.

Pfeifer, a retired Ohio Supreme Court justice, is the executive director of the Ohio Judicial Conference.