Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Social Welfare

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 104 pages) : illustrations (some color)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Nancy Claiborne

Committee Members

Heather K. Horton, Laura Hopson


African American males, Crack cocaine, Drug dealers, Drug laws, Livelihood, Parole officers, Ex-convicts, African American men, Crack (Drug), Prisoners

Subject Categories

African American Studies | Criminology | Social Work


Starting in the 1980s, the crack cocaine epidemic disproportionately affected African American males. The justice system incarcerated thousands of African American males, often multiple times for selling crack cocaine during their adolescence and adult lives. On release from prison, this population often does not fit well with the environment to which they return, leading to subsequent incarceration. Using the ecological theory as a lens, this study concerns the goodness of fit between African American males incarcerated repeatedly for selling crack cocaine and the home environment within an Upstate New York community after their release. In this study, I explored the re-entry process into society after incarceration. The aim of this qualitative research was to examine an older group of former crack cocaine dealers’ perceptions of their employment and livelihood. The investigation includes the questions: 1) What is the re-entry process into society from prison like from the perspective of a former crack cocaine dealer, 2) How has crack cocaine dealing affected attitudes toward legal work and 3) What are the perceptions of former African American male crack cocaine dealers on work and livelihood in older age? Data collection entailed two interviews with each participant living in a specific community. Data analysis consisted of a grounded theory approach using open, axial, and selective coding. The results provided a burgeoning theory grounded in these data.