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Special Broadcast: Document - Death Resulting

Death Resulting Horiz

NHPR will present a special broadcast of Death Resulting, the Document team's latest reporting project, on Wednesday, Feb. 2 and Thursday, Feb 3.

Document is NHPR's investigative reporting project. Hosted by Senior Reporter/Producer Jason Moon, Death Resulting was released as a podcast in December 2021.

The series follows the case of Josh, a young man facing a 20-year mandatory minimum sentence in federal prison for his friend’s death. Moon examines forces that shape such cases, including a cycle of generational trauma and addiction, as well as the racist origins and impacts of these prosecutions.

Death Resulting looks closely at the context of overdose deaths - and it challenges listeners to consider whether a hunger for meting out punishment may ultimately create more victims in the country’s deepening addiction and overdose crisis.

The first hour of the special will broadcast on Wednesday, Feb. 2, at 1 pm and again at 9 pm. The second hour will broadcast Thursday, Feb. 3 at 1 pm and again at 9 pm:

Hour 1: Contains the first two episodes, "The Crime" and "Launching A War."

The Crime

An early morning drug deal in a hotel bathroom ends in tragedy. Josh is charged under the federal death resulting law — a new and growing strategy for prosecutors — and faces a sentence of two decades or longer. With little doubt that Josh would be found guilty, his attorney prepares a desperate case for the judge that the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

Launching A War

In 1986, racist fears and the death of a basketball star prompt Congress to lay down the legal foundation for the War on Drugs. Today most Americans see that war as a failure. But buried deep in that 35-year-old law was the death resulting law — a penalty little used until the opioid epidemic, and now disproportionately impacting people of color.

Hour 2: Contains the third and fourth episodes, "A Normal Member of Society," and "You Gotta Have an Opinion."

A Normal Member of Society

Death resulting laws seek to punish a single person — the drug dealer —for an overdose death. But the laws all but ignore what pushed that dealer into this terrible position in the first place. In this episode we tell the story of everything in Josh’s life that pushed him into the hotel bathroom where Liz overdosed on drugs he gave her. And we examine a broader definition of “guilt” to find a system that failed Josh at every step of the way.

You Gotta Have an Opinion

Attorneys for the federal government and Josh collide in a dramatic courtroom debate that traces the history of Josh’s family, the War on Drugs, and the ethics of death resulting laws themselves. In the end, a judge hands Josh a sentence. And we ask you to decide if this outcome is justice.

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