Kimani Paul-Emile

In Funded Scholars
Kimani Paul-Emile
Kimani Paul-Emile




Associate Professor 
Fordham University School of Law

Professional Bio

Dr. Kimani Paul-Emile teaches and researches in the areas of bioethics, health law, and drug regulation. She received her Ph.D. in American Studies from New York University, holds a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, and a B.A. in Political Science and in American Civilization (with honors) from Brown University. Before pursuing her doctoral degree, Dr. Paul-Emile served as associate counsel in the Poverty Program at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. Prior to this, she practiced civil rights law at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she was a National Association for Public Interest Law Fellow (now Equal Justice Works) and later the William Moses Kunstler Fellow for Racial Justice. Dr. Paul-Emile has also served as Senior Faculty Development Consultant & Coordinator of Diversity Programming at the NYU Center for Teaching Excellence.

Project Description

This project analyzes the ways in which the indiscriminate and increasingly pervasive use of criminal background checks affect the health and welfare of individuals with criminal records precipitated by a low-level offense. For these individuals, the widespread reliance upon, and limited oversight of, the use of background checks may cause a form of chronic social and civil incapacitation that effectively disables their basic ability to compete in our society and assume a productive and responsible place in it. This research will examine whether, and the extent to which, this phenomenon imposes and sustains significant, large-scale public health harms to these low-level offenders and their families. In so doing, I will offer strategies and legal remedies for containing the growth of this problem, without compromising public safety.

My New Connections Experience

I applied for a New Connections Grant because this generous award will afford me the time and resources necessary to engage in the mixed-methodology research (qualitative and quantitative) required to fully address the ways in which pervasive and indiscriminate reliance upon criminal background checks affect the health and welfare of low-level offenders and their families. I am very excited to have received this prestigious grant, which allows me the unique opportunity for focused and sustained engagement with my research on the impact of criminal background checks on low-level offenders. In addition, this RWJF grant will enable me to expand my research and publication portfolio at this crucial time in my career, while providing access to a broad network of esteemed scholars in my field.

Research Interests

My research addresses issues that arise at the intersection of race, health law, and inequality. I have spent much of my legal and academic career examining the effects of U.S. drug laws and regulations on vulnerable populations, focusing specifically on the way drug laws can create and reinforce health disparities that cleave along racial and socio-economic lines. My current research uses a public health approach to examine the impact of indiscriminate criminal background checks on the health and welfare of low-level offenders and their families.

The Details
  • New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
  • Award Year: 2011, PHLR-New Connections 
  • RWJF Team/Portfolio: Public Health 
  • Project Name: The Impact of Indiscriminate Criminal Background Checks on the Health and Welfare of Low-level Criminal Offenders.

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