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Criminal Justice


Gloria Billingsley


AbstractThe purpose of the study was to explore social constructs and bureaucratic decisions to assess their effects on sentencing laws based on race, class, and socioeconomic status (SES). The research question guiding the study whether there was a relationship between race, class, SES, and arrests among opioid users. A cross-sectional correlational design using secondary data from Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration 2010-2018 surveys of 265,442 participants and FBI Uniform Crime Reports were assessed to understand the bureaucracy of the opioid epidemic. Lipsky’s street-level bureaucracy theory was used to examine the historical, political, and racial structures within the judicial system. Social construction theory was used to address public personification, societal values on social constructs, and their effects on governmental procedures. Logistic regression was used to identify predictive relationships. The findings revealed that race, class, and SES were significant factors in disparity in sentencing in opioid cases. Recommendations for drug policy included increasing the fiscal budget to add significant investments in drug control policies. Also, policies and resources should be aligned across agencies for greater communication and collaboration among low-level bureaucrats, public health officials, and insurance agencies to target interventions and improve surveillance and data sharing across agencies. The implications for positive social change include providing invaluable information for policymakers on how to create parity and equity in sentencing across all types of drug use, focusing on criminal activity resulting from the use of the illicit drug versus the drug itself.

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