Criminal Sentencing Trends for Environmental Crimes Prosecuted Under the Jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency
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The purpose of this study is to increase the understanding of sentence variations for environmental crimes prosecuted under the jurisdiction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Data was collected from the EPA’s Criminal Online Database for fiscal years 2001-2011. Ninety-two cases that stated an identified victim were then pulled from the 972 overall cases. These cases were compared by victim type, offender type, region, and year. Findings indicated that cases with a human victim received higher fines, more probation, and longer incarceration. Next, it was found that corporations were sentenced to higher fines and slightly more probation than individuals for both animal and human victim cases. Subsequent findings showed that regional variation occurred when comparing the number of cases as well as the mean per case fines, probation, and incarceration in both victim type cases for both offenders. Finally, it was found that variations occur from year to year with no general pattern of increase or decrease. This was found for both offender types in cases with either an animal or human victim. These results imply the idea that more value is placed on human victims than animal victims. It also implies that certain offenders will receive more punishment for harming like victims. Regional variation was found to occur in these cases, which is consistent with the literature on criminal sentencing. The yearly variation, however, was unexpected. Overall, these results demonstrate the complexity of sentencing environmental criminal cases.