Award Date


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminal Justice

First Committee Member

Emily Troshynski

Second Committee Member

Emily Salisbury

Third Committee Member

Terance Miethe

Fourth Committee Member

Michael Bruner

Number of Pages



The purpose of this study was to understand racial disparities that persist throughout the criminal justice system. Since the early 1970s, the U.S. female prison population has risen at a faster rate than the male prison population (Harmon & Boppre, 2016; Morín, 2008, 2016). Overall, a plethora of research has linked the rise in imprisonment to the War on Drugs and the criminalization of drug use. This thesis examined these questions: 1) are drug crime initiatives driving the rise in Hispanic female imprisonment in comparison to Black and White females and 2) using Blalock’s (1967) theory on group threat, do drug crime prison admission rates for Hispanic females correspond with the increase in the Hispanic population from 1980 to 2010 in the United States (Owens, 2010)? Using state-level data collected by the National Corrections Reporting Program (7 years; 32 states), this study sought to fill in the gaps of literature pertaining to Hispanic females’ interactions with the criminal justice system by investigating differences in drug crime admissions for females (Beck & Blumstein, 2018; Harmon & Boppre, 2016; Lopez & Pasko, 2017). This thesis adds a new edition to the substantial research focused on the dichotomous Black and White disparity analysis by including Hispanics, more specifically Hispanic females into the analysis. A major limitation of the previous scholarship is the scarcity of research available on Hispanic females’ interactions with the criminal justice system (e.g., police interactions, sentencing, and imprisonment), and how or if the War on Drugs affected them (Beck & Blumstein, 2018; Harmon & Boppre, 2016; Lopez & Pasko, 2017). By using an F-test to compare drug crime prison admissions, the results indicated that Hispanic females were admitted to prison at lower rates than Black and White females for all drug offenses. This study found minimal to no support for Blalock’s threat hypothesis based on race/ethnicity.


Gender; Hispanic Females; Race; Racial Disparities; War on Crime; War on Drugs


Criminology | Criminology and Criminal Justice

File Format


File Size

0.825 MB

Degree Grantor

University of Nevada, Las Vegas




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