Criminalizing environmental offences: when the prosecutor’s helping hand hurts
Recent policy initiatives by the European Commission envisage an increased criminalization of offences against the environment, bringing the deterrent power of criminal law to bear on environmental violators in order to increase environmental quality. This paper examines some of the implications of such initiatives from a law-and-economics perspective. We show that increased criminalization does not necessarily lead to higher environmental quality. Budget-constrained regulators mandated with minimizing environmental damages can lose their ability to incentivize violators to report their misconducts in the presence of criminal prosecution. Therefore, some of the damages that otherwise can be remediated go undetected. The mechanism results from the subtle interplay of the current regulatory structure and the incentives of the environmental criminal justice system. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2014
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Volume (Year): 37 (2014)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
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