Document Type


Date of Award



Barbara Jordan-Mickey Leland School of Public Affairs (SOPA)

Degree Name

Ph.D. in Administration of Justice

Committee Chairperson

Ihekwoaba D Onwudiwe

Committee Member 1

Robert M Mupier

Committee Member 2

Jasmine M Drake

Committee Member 3

Andrew I.E Ewoh


Disadvantaged Communities, Environmental Justice, Environmental Pollution, Green Criminology, Sustainability, Unintentional Environmental Racism


The underlying principle of green criminology is understanding environmental harms from a criminological lens, a variation from mainstream criminology's focus on street crimes. Environmental harms and contamination, such as oil spills, remain a growing concern for nations especially disadvantaged communities (low-income and communities of color). This dissertation analyzed the environmental pollution of 3 oil spills in North America to ascertain their impact on disadvantaged communities. This was achieved through secondary research inquiry using a case study analysis. This dissertation also highlighted the impact of forensic science and environmental forensics in oil spill cases. Using an independent sample t-test, this dissertation investigated the occurrence of lung cancer in minority and nonminority communities for the 3 oil spill cases. The results indicated a significant difference between lung cancer cases in 4 out of 13 counties indicating the presence of “unintentional environmental racism” (inadvertent discharge of oil spills leading to environmental racism) coined by this dissertation. Furthermore, this dissertation compared cleanup timelines and compensation structure in minority and nonminority communities but found no indication of environmental racism. Being the first of its kind, this dissertation contributes to the body of green criminology by creating awareness through its analysis of the negative impact of environmental pollution (oil spills) in disadvantaged communities. This dissertation also promotes the adoption of sustainable policies and the transition to renewable energy sources to help disadvantaged communities. It underscores the importance of environmental protection efforts by green criminologists to help disadvantaged communities in the fight for environmental justice.


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