In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Environmental Crime and Justice

  • Introduction
  • Introductory Works
  • Food Crimes
  • Logging, Forest, and Timber Crimes
  • Wildlife Crimes, Illicit Species Trade, and Poaching
  • Hazardous, Toxic, and Chemical Waste
  • Limits of Legal Responses
  • Empirical and Case Studies on Environmental Crime
  • Effect of Environmental Chemical Pollution on Criminal Behavior

Criminology Environmental Crime and Justice
Michael J. Lynch, Paul B. Stretesky
  • LAST REVIEWED: 14 December 2009
  • LAST MODIFIED: 14 December 2009
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780195396607-0063


Traditionally, environmental crime and justice were viewed as issues for researchers working in disciplines such as public health, epidemiology, forensic science, geography, public policy, ecology, sociology, business management, and political science. More recently, the importance placed on the social consequences of climate change, as well as what to do about this problem, has caused fields such as atmospheric and climate science to address concerns about environmental crime, regulation, and justice. Since the late 1990s, however, criminologists have started to make a meaningful contribution to the environmental crime and justice literature. This entry is not comprised entirely of criminological research, since significant contributions to the study of environmental crime and justice are made by researchers in various disciplines. The entry features issues of criminological relevance and excludes broad coverage of background issues in science that may help to establish a better understanding of environmental issues. Also excluded is a section on climate change, since criminologists, with few exceptions, have yet to explore the relevance of this issue. There is a section on empirical and case studies useful to those interested in specific areas of concern to criminologists.

Introductory Works

The works in this section provide overviews and introductions to environmental crime and justice issues. On the definition of environmental crime, see Shover and Routhe 2005. For more in-depth discussions see White 2008; Burns, et al. 2008; and Edwards, et al. 1996. On environmental policy see Low and Gleeson 1998. For an analysis linked to criminal justice system responsibilities see Situ and Emmons 2000. For a case study approach see Simon 2000.

  • Burns, Ronald G., Michael J. Lynch, and Paul B. Stretesky. 2008. Environmental law, crime, and justice. New York: LFB Scholarly Publishing.

    Provides a thorough introduction to issues in environmental law, an overview of federal environmental law, and the extant literature on environmental justice. Also includes examples of how to use federal environmental crime databases to conduct criminologically grounded environmental research.

  • Clifford, Mary, ed. 1998. Environmental crime: Enforcement, policy, and social responsibility. MD: Aspen.

    The first reader on environmental crime specifically designed for criminologists. Addresses a number of important issues and explores how they can be included within criminology.

  • Edwards, Sally M., Terry D. Edwards, and Charles B. Fields, eds. 1996. Environmental crime and criminality: Theoretical and practical issues. New York: Garland.

    The eleven chapters in this collection examine federal and state environmental regulations related to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criminal, civil, and administrative enforcement, prosecutorial challenges and public protection, and toxic waste and toxic dumping. Includes theoretical, philosophical, and empirical studies.

  • Low, Nicholas, and Brenda Gleeson. 1998. Justice, society and nature: An exploration of political ecology. London: Routledge.

    Explores issues related to the connection between environmental harm and economic development, and employs national and international illustrations to examine the scope of environmental law and policy issues.

  • Shover, Neal, and Aaron S. Routhe. 2005. Environmental crime. Crime and Justice: A Review of Research. Vol. 32. Edited by Michael Tonry, 321–371. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press.

    Excellent overview and introduction to the variety of issues involved in the study of environmental crime. Provides a good starting point for those interested in becoming more familiar with environmental crime.

  • Simon, David R. 2000. Corporate environmental crimes and social inequality: New directions for environmental justice research. American Behavioral Scientist 43.4: 633–645.

    DOI: 10.1177/00027640021955469

    Provides a good introduction to the examination of patterns of social inequality within the study of environmental crime. Specifically addresses patterns of environmental crime among the world’s largest multinational corporations and environmental crimes committed by the federal government.

  • Situ, Yingyi, and David Emmons. 2000. Environmental crime: The criminal justice system’s role in protecting the environment. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

    A good, general introduction to environmental crime issues and the role criminal justice can and does play in enforcing environmental regulations. The latter issue is not widely addressed by most discussions of environmental crime.

  • White, Rob. 2008. Crimes against nature: Environmental criminology and ecological justice. Cullompton, UK: Willan.

    An in-depth analysis of environmental crime that integrates ecology, environmental studies, and environmental sociological perspectives into criminological examinations of environmental crime. Includes a variety of cases studies to illustrate these connections.

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