A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Oct 8, 2015

The OTHER reason the bullhook veto hurts

Courtesy Google Images
In his message vetoing the ban on bullhooks, the governor stated that he did not want "to create a new crime", lamenting that there are so many, and that "our jail and prison population have exploded".

For the most part I agree that we should not criminalize every individual type of behavior when such behavior would be subsumed under a general, elastic, broad statute. The reason is that when there is a list of specific prohibited conduct, and a criminal does something not on the list, the door is opened for the defense to argue that if the legislature intended this to be wrong - it would have added it to the list. Bullhooks however, though instruments of torture, were universally accepted as a necessary training device, a likely defense to the crime of animal cruelty, and therefore needs its own statutory language. But that is NOT the reason for the veto. Prison overcrowding is the reason to the detriment of elephants and the rest us.

Our country uses prisons to house the mentally ill, the homeless, minor drug offenders, and an assortment of others hapless souls. California is already under Federal decree to reduce overcrowding in prisons. Therefore, there is an impetus to avoid the creation of new crimes, reduce sentences and release broad categories of prisoners back into society. Various broad stroke propositions like 109 (which realigns categories of crime) and 47 (which reduces penalties) among other things govern this exodus. The problem, is that these are general, clumsy, thoughtless ways of emptying the jails with no targeted and tailored programs on the other end that will reduce crime, aid re-entry, and prevent recidivism. Additionally, violent offenders who need to be incarcerated squeak out under these "fixes", (Note the increase in crime in this state!) It is analogous to cutting off an arm to treat a splinter!  The splinter is gone but the process, without more, leaves a person in serious peril.

Thus the veto on our bullhook ban. A new crime needed to be created but now won't be because of massive mismanagement of the system.

We can pass city by city bans to help our elephants as we have been doing - but who do I see about fixing the rest of this mess for us all?

No comments:

Post a Comment