Chapter 12 Review questions answer guidance

1. To what extent can green criminology be seen as a distinct subfield of criminology?

The question requires you to think about the extent to which green criminology has become established. In doing so, it also encourages you to think about how criminology can and should consider environmental problems. Your answer might examine green criminology as an established part of critical criminology that goes beyond traditional criminology’s focus on ‘crime’ as defined by criminal law systems. You might also explore how, since 1990, green criminology has established itself as a field of criminology that considers a wide range of victims of human harms, including the environment itself and animals as crime (and harm) victims.

2. What are the key differences between environmental justice and ecological justice?

You should consider how environmental justice is human-centred and examines how some groups are denied access to environmental resources and rights (this includes ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples). By contrast, ecological justice and its associated idea of species justice are focused on responsibilities to the environment and non-human nature.

3. How does green criminology extend our understanding of crime and deviance?

The answer requires an understanding of how green criminology goes beyond considering crime as purely that classified as crime by the criminal law. You might explore how some harms are caused by legal activity (e.g. pollution and exploitation of natural resources) and are committed by powerful actors such as corporations. Green criminology encourages us to think beyond simple notions of good actors and bad actors and to consider how even those involved in otherwise legal activities can still be involved in crimes or mass harms. This also influences our approach to dealing with crime and deviance and your answer might consider how justice systems might be adapted to change behaviour rather than just punish offenders.

4. List three reasons why green criminologists argue that harm is more important than crime when justice systems and criminologists are considering green crimes and offending.

The question requires you to consider the limitations of only considering crimes. It encourages you to consider:

  • The importance of the consequences of harms, so that we consider not just illegal acts but legal acts and social wrongs (including civil offences) that could have serious, harmful consequences.
  • Wider ideas of who commits the majority of environmental wrongdoing, including powerful groups like business, organised crime, and even the state.
  • By considering harm rather than crime we focus on the ways that justice systems need to work to repair environmental harms and move away from a punishment-based approach. Green criminology is concerned with causes and impacts and addressing the effects of wrongdoing rather than the traditional criminological focus on punishment.

5. What challenges exist in policing green crimes?

Consider the reality that green crimes are not always a straightforward police matter and that there are difficulties in terms of how they are dealt with by justice systems. Environmental cases can involve a mixture of laws (criminal, civil and administrative) as well as a range of offenders. Within your answer there is scope to identify that while some crimes will be straightforward police matters others may be dealt with by other bodies. For example, some crimes committed by corporations might be technical offences or minor permit breaches that strictly speaking would not be dealt with as crimes. An answer to this question could explore the role of regulators in dealing with green crimes and also the challenges of identifying who within a corporation should be prosecuted when an incident occurs. You might also explore the distinction between crime and harm and the lack of willingness to treat corporations as criminal. 

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