Department of Conflict Resolution Studies Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Conflict Analysis & Resolution


Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dustin D. Berna

Second Advisor

Jason J. Campbell

Third Advisor

Judith McKay


This non-experimental study examines the issues of over-representation of minorities in the criminal justice system due to drug-related incidences, race relations, and the impact such representation has on families, children, and communities. The exploration of the current criminal justice efforts against drugs is presented through a meta-analysis qualitative lens in an effort to disseminate the information on those arrested, sentenced, and subsequently incarcerated for various drug offenses. In an attempt to understand the encyclical racial disparities that promulgate the criminal justice system, the study relies on information from several key theorists to cement the discussions in the research. Qualitative data from scholastic and governmental resources will be presented from which the exploration of how drug sentencing and race may be closely related. By examining various case studies, both historical and current, the goal is to clarify the various processes on which different actions have attempted to transform social relationships and the various constraints these movements faced when trying to implement and adapt these transformations.

The outcomes of this multi-layered study reveal the evolution of race relations and "identity formation" with which America attempts to change through various systematic processes. The study will examine how the implementation of governmental programs on incarceration impacts social classes and increases racial division. Three research strategies will be utilized: (1) qualitative analysis that covers racism from the media's portrayal of minorities, (2) review of the writings of theorists' addressing whether drug-related crimes or racism adds to disparity in the criminal justice system, and (3) examination of multiple case studies dealing with incarcerations' impact on minority children and communities. Data have been gathered from pre-published reports, newspapers, journals, and experiments conducted by social science theorists dealing with the new drug war and racism, and also the practices of restorative justice. This study suggests that racism is a phenomenon in the lives of every American or immigrant. Even with time and evident changes within society, racism still dominates and determines people's lives. Restoration is not inconsequential, and while various movements link social change with the governing of a new and different leader in America, this study will look at how it is possible to revisit race relations, and implement forgiveness through conflict resolution in an effort to enact systematic changes. These enactments have potential to preserve institutions and save future social infrastructure.

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