Environmental Crime

Issues Related to Justice's Criminal Prosecution of Environmental Offenses Gao ID: T-GGD-94-33 November 3, 1993

Between 1988 and 1992, the U.S. Attorneys offices (USAO) handled the majority of investigations and prosecutions for environmental crimes. Those offices brought an increasing number cases under the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act. Justice's Environmental Crimes Section (ECS) has led relatively few prosecutions since 1988, never rising above 14.5 percent of cases filed in any given year. Available data for the first half of 1993, however, suggest that these trends may be changing. In particular, the proportion of cases involving shared responsibility between USAO and ECS may be on the upswing. Overall, USAO and ECS attorneys joined forces in cases against 630 defendants between October 1987 and May 1993, achieving an overall conviction rate of more than 90 percent. Probation and fines were the most common single sentence imposed, although more than one-third of all defendants ended up in jail. Federal courts imposed fines on all but 13 sentenced corporations.

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