American Journal of Criminal Justice

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 843–860 | Cite as

Crime as Pollution? Theoretical, Definitional and Policy Concerns with Conceptualizing Crime as Pollution

  • Michael J. Lynch
  • Kimberly L. Barrett
  • Paul B. Stretesky
  • Michael A. Long
  • Melissa L. Jarrell
  • Joshua Ozymy


Recently, criminologists have advocated understanding “crime as pollution” to argued for market based crime control policy initiatives that mirror pollution control policy initiatives. That argument assumes that pollution control policies are effective social control mechanisms. This article explores definitional, conceptual, methodological, theoretical, and policy concerns which arise from the “crime as pollution” concept. While the “crime as pollution” position has sparked interesting policy discussions in criminology, we suggest that viewing crime as pollution is inconsistent with the scientific definitions and measurement of pollution. Moreover, environmental market based social control responses have generated significant environmental justice concerns the crime as pollution model overlooks and hence is likely to replicate. Rather than crime as pollution, criminologists would be better served by further exploration of established criminological literature, including green criminology, which depicts pollution as crime and produces policies for the amelioration of pollution related victimization.


Crime Pollution “Crime as pollution” Pollution as crime Crime policy Green criminology 


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Copyright information

© Southern Criminal Justice Association 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Lynch
    • 1
  • Kimberly L. Barrett
    • 2
  • Paul B. Stretesky
    • 3
  • Michael A. Long
    • 3
  • Melissa L. Jarrell
    • 4
  • Joshua Ozymy
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of CriminologyUniversity of South FloridaTampaUSA
  2. 2.Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology DepartmentEastern Michigan UniversityYpsilantiUSA
  3. 3.Department of Social Sciences and LanguagesNorthumbria UniversityTyne and WearUK
  4. 4.Department of Criminal JusticeTexas A& M University – Corpus ChristiCorpus ChristiUSA
  5. 5.Department of Political ScienceTexas A & M University – Corpus ChristiCorpus ChristiUSA

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