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What About the Environment? Assessing the Perceived Seriousness of Environmental Crime

NCJ Number
International Journal of Comparative and Applied Criminal Justice Volume: 35 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2011 Pages: 307-325
Tara O'Connor Shelley; Ted Chiricos; Marc Gertz
Date Published
November 2011
19 pages
This study explored the public's perceptions about environmental crime.
Environmental sociologists argue that the public has grown increasingly concerned about environmental issues. Yet, little is known about public perceptions of environmental offenses and if these offenses are viewed as serious crimes. This study utilizes survey data from a national random sample of households (N=876) and examines: (1) if environmental offenses are perceived as serious crimes; (2) how environmental crimes are rated in comparison to nonenvironmental crimes; and (3) if there is consensus about environmental-crime seriousness or whether perceptions of environmental-crime seriousness vary by social and demographic characteristics. Results indicate that although environmental crimes are viewed as serious crimes (in some cases more serious than traditional street crime), there are clear socio-demographic differences in perceptions of environmental-crime seriousness. (Published Abstract)