Offenders of Environmental Crimes

Rita Faria


green criminology • offenders • organized crime • corporate crime • environmental crime • environmental harms • causes of crime • research methods


Criminology was born from the political and scientific project of producing evidence-based knowledge about a particular kind of subject: the criminal. This evasive topic of inquiry has driven orthodox and positivistic criminology to look for risk factors, situational clues, criminal scripts, opportunities for crime, and so on. But critiques of such approach have noted how the framework of criminal action and motivation—that is: crime—ought to be analyzed from a social constructionist perspective rather than by mere reified, legal notions. In green criminology scholarship, environmental harms and crimes have been critically debated, and it is fairly accepted that, while necessary, legalistic approaches to environmental offenses would not suffice due to their ethnocentric perspective of life, social order, and justice. However, in green criminology, evidence-based and critical debates about the environmental offender are somehow lagging. There has been a growth of research devoted to understanding environmental offending and ways to react to it, and more data about offenders is being collected, with authors now in a better position to inform about the features of those who commit environmental offenses and harms. However, a closer look at the bulk of literature reveals that green criminology has been looking at a hard-to-grasp reality, composed of a multitude of actors (and respective actions) that include individual offenders, as well as criminal networks, and legitimate organizations such as corporations and states—all of which should be envisioned as complex systems that interact with particular surroundings and contexts, moved by specific values and (sub)cultural norms.

Trying to convey this multitude into one article is not an easy job and, overall, the complexity of environmental offenses reveals the multifaceted nature of offenders and the multilayered causes and motives of behaviors that harm the environment or break those laws and regulations dedicated to protecting nonhuman species, habitats, or the environment as a whole.