Maxwell School Lerner Chair Shannon Monnat and team secure NIJ grant

Shannon MonnatShannon Monnat, associate professor of sociology and the new Lerner Chair for Public Health Promotion, is part of a team that secured a $990,002 grant from the National Institute of Justice for a study on impeding the illegal distribution of opioid drugs in Pennsylvania.

The study, titled “Identifying and Informing Strategies for Disrupting Drug Distribution Networks: An Application to Opiate Flows in Pennsylvania,” will provide recommendations to law enforcement agencies on how to maximize the efficiency of disrupting the supply of opiates into communities and develop a model for use in other jurisdictions.

Abuse of prescription pain relievers and heroin (opiates) is a critical U.S. public health and criminal justice policy issue. In 2015, 60% of all drug overdose deaths were attributed to prescription opioids or heroin. Deaths from prescription opioids and heroin have increased from 5,428 in 1999 to 31,498 in 2015. 

Monnat, who is the study’s co-principal investigator along with principal investigator Glenn Sterner and co-principal investigator Ashton Verdery of Pennsylvania State University, hopes that the findings from this study can inform strategies for collaborations between police jurisdictions and local community organizations in combating the spread of illegal drugs.

Study researchers will analyze Pennsylvania State Police arrest and seizure data and involve community members in focus groups and participatory mapping to identify and analyze networks of opiate distribution, pinpoint the most common locations of sales, explore areas for increased law enforcement attention, and identify additional indicators associated with high and low opiate distribution neighborhoods.

Monnat adds, “We hope to leverage the findings from this study to eventually expand our analysis and dissemination to central and northern New York, where we have seen recent large upticks in drug overdoses and arrests.”

-- Edy Semaan, MAIR/MS (Public Relations) through SU's Public Diplomacy program, anticipated '19