Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Personal tools


Environmental Crimes

Environmental crime harms communities and the people living in them in multiple ways. Sometimes those harms continue for generations. These articles discuss the potential of restorative justice as a response.

Rena captain and officer sent to jail
from the article by Matt Bowne and Paloma Migone in the Marlborough Express: ....The men responsible for causing New Zealand's worst maritime environmental disaster by grounding the Rena off Tauranga's coast have been sentenced to seven months in jail. ...."There was substantial ecological damage to marine wildlife and seabirds, the food resources of the indigenous people who reside on the coast, the incomes of those whose living is made from the sea ... and an entire community was sent into shock."
Watch out for new environmental enforcement laws
from the entry by Elizabeth Sivell on Lexology: The Protection of the Environment Legislation Amendment Bill 2014, introduced to the Legislative Assembly on 12 August, proposes to strengthen NSW environmental enforcement laws, and introduces the concept of ‘restorative justice’ into environmental enforcement.
Besthorn, Fred H.. The Environmental Restoration Movement as an Issue of Justice
"The person-in-the-environment concept of social work is especially relevant to Chapter 13 by Fred H. Besthorn who leads us into an examination of the impact of rapidly deteriorating natural elements and their impact on the world's ecosystems." (Abstract)
Fisher, Richard and Heffernan, Felicity and Verry, John. Restorative Justice Approaches in the Context of Environmental Prosecution.
Punishment of environmental "crimes" differs from other prosecuted offenses, because the harm done is often irreparable, and because there is often no victim, in the ordinary sense of criminal justice. Consequently, statutory enforcement mechanisms must be flexible, proactive, and arguably more preventive than punitive. Relatively new "green" sentencing options in Australia, for example, include restoration or enhancement of the environment in public places, as well as other creative punishments, including environmental audits of company activities, publication of the offense, and a requirement for notification in company annual reports. In this study, we examine the applicability of a restorative justice approach to environmental offenses under New Zealand's Resource Management Act 1991. The benefits of “restorative justiceâ€? and “diversionâ€? schemes are discussed, as these have been applied by one New Zealand district council. It suggests that a restorative justice approach may offer useful, additional discretion to local authorities when prioritising the resource-intense effort required to successfully prosecute environmental offenses as the means for re-dressing the damage to the environment. (Author's Abstract).
Mangakino awarded $30,000 after restorative justice process
From the article on Environment Waikato: The Mangakino community is to receive $30,000 towards community projects from Taupo District Council (TDC) as part of a restorative justice ruling handed down last week by the Tokoroa District Court over illegal sewage dumping. After a prosecution initiated by Environment Waikato, TDC pleaded guilty to illegally dumping sewage sludge at sites around the town in 2008. The discharges by TDC followed a series of problems with Mangakino’s sewage system. EW consented to a restorative justice process that involved a meeting in Mangakino to work out how a suggested $27,000 fine could be put back into the local community.
McElrea, F W M. The Role of Restorative Justice in RMA Prosecutions.
I was a great surprise but a very great privilege to be this lecture to the RMLA Auckland branch members earlier this year. The topic is certainly one of real interest to me, and I hope it will prove of value to you. With the agreement of Principal Environment Court Judge Bollard I have been encouraging the use of restorative justice processes in a few RMA cases. Two have been completed and others are in the pipeline either here or in the Waikato. There is the potential for a greatly increased use of this approach.(excerpt)
Restorative justice and the BP catastrophe
from Carolyn Raffensperger's entry on Science & Environmental Health Network: The BP disaster demands justice. People are looking for asses to kick, ways to make BP–or the government—pay for their failures. Some have argued that we are all to blame because we use fossil fuels. Others argue that the oil industry is solely liable because they were negligent, under-prepared and greedy. These are all demands for a kind of justice that requires retribution. Punish the perps. I share the rage but I think this catastrophe calls for another larger kind of justice. Restorative Justice. Restorative Justice is a theory of justice that “emphasizes repairing the harm caused or revealed by unjust behavior.”
Martin, Edward J.. Environmental policy and management in Costa Rica: suitainable development and deliberative democracy
The Costa Rican model provides a context for ongoing dialogue and civil discourse in promoting greater democratic discourse in promoting greater democratic control over environmental resource allocation and economic development through sustainable development policies. This form of civil discourse provides an important context for increased dialogue on the priority of securing environmental integrity and local indigenous economic needs over and above the strategies of global and postmodern capital ventures. It is precisely in sustainable policies that zero-sum effects within a global market can be mitigated. Working within the structures of limiting the use of natural resources and the need to secure the integrity of local domestic needs is fundamental to a sustainable planet. Arguably the Costa Rican model on environmental policy and administration best supports the development of natural and social capital based on the Earth Summit’s sustainable development principles and policies which have emerged from Rio de Janeiro and Johannesburg. These environmental policies and management strategies could prove to be of great benefit to the populations of the North. In future planning strategies, the inclusive dimension of capacity building through civil discourse holds promise for a more democratic environment and economy. (excerpt).
Besthorn, Fred H. Environmental Restoration and Restorative Justice
While an escalating cycle of violence and judicially sanctioned counter violence seems to be the norm for a world gone astray from the impulse of its gentler angels, there are growing signs that many societies are attempting to find a way out of the destructive and repetitive cycles of harm and retribution. The Restorative Justice Movement is one such example of this emerging effort. Restorative justice aims to bring about a fundamental change in modern western cultural response to crime and punishment. The Restorative Justice Movement sprang from the civil rights, feminist, and indigenous freedom movements of the 1960s and 1970s. While these earlier progenitors were largely focused on social transformation, the Restorative Justice Movement has as its primary aim the dismantling of the justice-industrial complex (Johnstone, 2002). This system executes or incarcerates ever increasing numbers of its citizenry in a continually more punitive and depriving environment. Restorative Justice seeks to replace the values of vengeance and retributions with a more humane and morally defensible stance of restoration, healing, and forgiveness. These are thought to be the primary ameliorative paths of crime victims and the only way to "create just communities in which people who are in pain and suffering can heal with dignity" (Sullivan and Taft: 21) and where meeting core humans needs and maintaining primary relationships are created and honored from the outset. (excerpt)

Document Actions

Restorative Justice Online - Featured Video

A long-time repeat offender describes the impact of meeting with his victims.