Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Senior Honors Thesis

Department or School

Social Work

First Advisor

Caren Putzu

Second Advisor

Angie Mann-WIlliams

Third Advisor

Lynn Nybell


Understanding the impact of American drug laws created as part of the War on Drugs is vital for social workers in their pursuit for social justice and effective advocacy. This policy analysis utilizes the David Gil policy analysis framework (1970) to evaluate the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 and the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010. These two laws concerned mandatory minimum sentences for crack cocaine. This research seeks to compare and contrast the history behind these laws, their intended and unintended consequences, and the values underlying these laws. This analysis shows the Anti-Drug Abuse Act and the Fair Sentencing Act had a disparate impact on African American communities. African American communities suffered the unintended consequences of these laws including being subjected to disproportionate sentencing and being deeply impacted by cycles of incarceration. In addition, this research will provide suggestions regarding how crack cocaine laws can be amended through retroactive applications and adjusting sentencing ratios and changes the government can enact overall in the justice system to eliminate racially disproportionate sentencing and mitigate other consequences of these laws.

Included in

Social Work Commons