The animal protection movement is at a critical juncture with regard to one of its central platforms, carceral animal law. The movement has long considered criminal prosecutions for animal abuse to be an important tool for protecting animals and advancing the status of animals in the law. Does the increased criminalization of animal cruelty – more crimes, more enforcement, higher penalties, deportations, and offender registries, among other mechanisms – serve the goal of improving the status of animals in the legal system? Alternatively, does incarcerating those who harm animals serve critical human interests in keeping society safe from persons who will progress to hurt humans? Are animals or humans better off because of the movement’s obsession with criminal punishment, or instead are neither truly benefitted by such policies? This is the first comprehensive effort to subject the vast carceral priorities of animal advocates to scrutiny. By exposing the breadth of the criminal justice efforts sought by animal advocates, and juxtaposing these punitive “successes” with the well-documented reality that our justice system is already among the harshest in the modern world, it is possible to contextualize the obsession with criminalization shared by many animal protection scholars and advocates. Outside of the animal law realm, researchers are consistently documenting the crimogenic consequences and other negative externalities flowing from carceral policies; this book seeks to bring that data to bear on the problem of how to improve the lives of animals under the law.

Participants and Bios

The book, Beyond Cages: Animal Law & Criminal Punishment has since been published by Cambridge University Press.