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The role of blameworthiness in the federal probation sentencing of corporate environmental offenders

Emily M. Homer (Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, Texas A&M University Commerce, Commerce, Texas, USA)
George E. Higgins (Department of Criminal Justice, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky, USA)

Journal of Financial Crime

ISSN: 1359-0790

Article publication date: 11 April 2022

Issue publication date: 18 April 2023




The purpose of this study is to investigate the federal sentencing of organizational probation for environmental offenders using the focal concerns. Those organizations that are more blameworthy should be sentenced to longer probation terms. However, little research has been conducted to examine whether probation is being sentenced accordingly. This is especially true for organizations convicted of environmental offenses, which are often thought of as deserving of increased penalties compared to non-environmental offenses.


This study used quantitative federal sentencing data from 2011 to 2020 (n = 1,436) and eight potential measures of blameworthiness grounded in the focal concerns.


The results showed that those organizations convicted of environmental crimes received 30% longer probation sentences than those not convicted of environmental crimes. However, additional measurements of blameworthiness derived from the existing literature of focal concerns were not relevant to probation sentencing decisions.


This study extends the application of the focal concerns and increases the body of knowledge regarding the sentencing of federal environmental offenders.



Homer, E.M. and Higgins, G.E. (2023), "The role of blameworthiness in the federal probation sentencing of corporate environmental offenders", Journal of Financial Crime, Vol. 30 No. 3, pp. 650-664.



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