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Environmental Crime Prosecution: Results of a National Survey, Research in Brief

NCJ Number
Date Published
August 1994
12 pages
Publication Series
A nationwide survey was conducted during the 1990-1992 period to assess the handling of environmental offenses by local prosecutors in large jurisdictions with a population of more than 250,000; survey questionnaires focused on differences in local environmental crime prosecution.
Of 32 States responding to the survey, the most responses were received from California, Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Texas. It was found that about half of prosecutors operated special environmental prosecution units. More than half assigned full-time prosecutors to environmental offense cases, and over 75 percent assigned part-time prosecutors to these cases. Most offices observed an increase in environmental offense cases over the survey period. The most common environmental offenses involved illegal hazardous waste disposal. The most important factors in deciding to prosecute environmental offenses were the degree of harm posed by the offense and the offender's criminal intent. The most significant factor in rejecting environmental offense prosecution concerned insufficient evidence or inability to recognize appropriate evidence. The least significant factor was lack of resources. Less than half of local prosecutors believed they could enroll in training to qualify as experts in environmental offense investigation and prosecution. Almost all indicated a need for increased technical assistance and training to improve the performance of environmental prosecution unit personnel. 3 exhibits

Date Published: August 1, 1994