Court Sentencing Patterns for Environmental Crimes: Is There a “Green” Gap in Punishment?

Court Sentencing Patterns for Environmental Crimes: Is There a “Green” Gap in Punishment? Objectives This study examines sentencing patterns for environmental crimes and tests the assumption that ‘‘green’’ offenders receive more lenient treatment from criminal courts than non-environmental offenders. Methods We present two sets of analyses. First, we present an empirical portrait of environmental felony offenses convicted in a single state (Florida) over a fifteen-year period and the resulting criminal sanctions. Second, we use a precision matching analysis to assess whether environmental offenders receive more lenient treatment when compared to non-environmental offenders with the same characteristics and offense severity scores. Results Findings indicate that an overall small percentage of felony convictions in state courts stem from environmental crimes. We also find that punishments for environmental crimes are more lenient than sanctions assigned to comparable non-environmental offenses when the environmental crime is ecological, but that punishments are sometimes harsher when the environmental crime involves animals. Conclusions The findings provide general support for the argument that courts and other formal institutions of social control treat environmental crimes more leniently than non- environmental crimes. This paper also raises important questions about citizen and state actors’ perceptions of crimes against the environment and, more generally, about the ways & Joshua C. Cochran joshua.cochran@uc.edu Elisa L. Toman http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Quantitative Criminology Springer Journals

Court Sentencing Patterns for Environmental Crimes: Is There a “Green” Gap in Punishment?

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 2016 by Springer Science+Business Media New York
Subject
Criminology and Criminal Justice; Criminology and Criminal Justice, general; Sociology, general; Methodology of the Social Sciences; Statistics, general
ISSN
0748-4518
eISSN
1573-7799
D.O.I.
10.1007/s10940-016-9322-9
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Objectives This study examines sentencing patterns for environmental crimes and tests the assumption that ‘‘green’’ offenders receive more lenient treatment from criminal courts than non-environmental offenders. Methods We present two sets of analyses. First, we present an empirical portrait of environmental felony offenses convicted in a single state (Florida) over a fifteen-year period and the resulting criminal sanctions. Second, we use a precision matching analysis to assess whether environmental offenders receive more lenient treatment when compared to non-environmental offenders with the same characteristics and offense severity scores. Results Findings indicate that an overall small percentage of felony convictions in state courts stem from environmental crimes. We also find that punishments for environmental crimes are more lenient than sanctions assigned to comparable non-environmental offenses when the environmental crime is ecological, but that punishments are sometimes harsher when the environmental crime involves animals. Conclusions The findings provide general support for the argument that courts and other formal institutions of social control treat environmental crimes more leniently than non- environmental crimes. This paper also raises important questions about citizen and state actors’ perceptions of crimes against the environment and, more generally, about the ways & Joshua C. Cochran joshua.cochran@uc.edu Elisa L. Toman

Journal

Journal of Quantitative CriminologySpringer Journals

Published: Sep 15, 2016

References

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