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A philanthropic giant’s recent hire of a researcher with controversial theories on naloxone access is raising alarms among public health advocates who worry the move marks a shift in major donors’ approach to addiction treatment.

Arnold Ventures, one of the largest nonprofit funders of criminal justice reform projects and a major player in drug policy circles, announced last month that Texas A&M University economist Jennifer Doleac would take over its criminal justice portfolio in July, replacing longtime policy reform researcher and public official Jeremy Travis. The news reignited a Twitter firestorm over Doleac’s work, including research suggesting that making the opioid overdose treatment naloxone more accessible sparked a rise in opioid use.


That paper, along with writing suggesting that supervised injection sites fuel similar trends and some of Doleac’s other work related to race and crime, have advocates worried that relatively recent harm reduction policies like free and accessible naloxone or needle exchange sites will come under fresh fire, and that her hire more broadly marks a shift in Arnold Venture’s approach to the criminal justice space.

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