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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Brown: Incarcerated Individuals Say Drug Induced homicide laws not effective way to stem overdose crisis.

Researchers at the Brown University School of Public Health have just published the results of a qualitative study asking incarcerated people with opioid use disorder (OUD) about their opinions on drug induced homicide laws in the International Journal of Drug Policy. The study was led by graduating MPH student, Ms. Meghan Peterson and was supervised by Dr. Josiah Rich, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the Warren Alpert Medical School.

Semi structured, qualitative interviews with people with OUD who were enrolled in a medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program, were conducted at the state jail/prison complex in Rhode Island.

Participants stressed the importance of understanding and honoring the autonomy of people who use drugs. They also suggested that due to the prevalence of fentanyl, most dealers may not be aware of fentanyl in their supply and so a punitive drug induced homicide law may not be effective. Others said that the law may discourage people to call 911 in the event of an overdose and many felt that mass incarceration was an ineffective way to address the opioid epidemic.

That said, some participants did support the drug induced homicide legislation and referenced losing friends and family to drugs that were contaminated as their reasoning for supporting the bill.

The authors suggest that future research should look into the effectiveness of these laws and that such research should inform future laws and policies on the overdose crisis.

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