The program, designed to develop research capacity at the intersection of health and criminal justice, is co-sponsored by the National Institutes on Drug Abuse and the Justice Community Opioid Intervention Network.
Taleed El-Sabawi, assistant professor of law, and Jennifer Carroll, assistant professor of anthropology, have been selected to serve as an independent investigator and research mentor, respectively, in a research training program funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the Justice Community Opioid Intervention Network (JCOIN) Coordinating and Translational Center.
The JCOIN training program is designed to support early career investigators who are advancing the capacity and diversity of high-impact research for populations involved with the health and criminal justice systems. During a two-year period, the program will emphasize research proposal writing, grant management, mentorship and advanced research skills needed to be successful in criminal justice settings, concluding with opportunities to secure research funding that is available on a competitive basis.
El-Sabawi and Carroll were selected for the JCOIN research training program as an investigator/mentor team proposing new research into the implementation of North Carolina’s recently enacted “Death by Distribution” law. This law allows an individual who sold or delivered drugs that later resulted in a fatal overdose to be charged with second-degree murder. Carroll and El-Sabawi aim to better understand how this law changes the behaviors of people who use and/or sell drugs in North Carolina — and whether or not those changes actually reduce North Carolinians’ risk of fatal overdose.
Death by distribution laws have been widely disparaged by public health experts (including Carroll, who testified in opposition to the bill before the North Carolina Senate Judicial Committee) as a well-meaning but ill-fated measure that will likely worsen rates of opioid overdose in North Carolina. Carroll’s own work, based on in-depth research among individuals at risk for opioid overdose in North Carolina, support this conclusion. El-Sabawi brings significant expertise in legal, regulatory, and litigation strategies that have emerged in response to the current overdose crisis. Her research has explored the conflation of public health and criminal justice responses to substance use in the U.S., lending significant insight into how a law designed to punish individuals who have sold a drug may (or may not) be able to produce the desired reduction in fatal overdoses.
The JCOIN research training program begins in early April, at the Academic and Health Policy Conference on Correctional Health, which will be held in Raleigh.