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In Defense of Pro-Carceral Animal Law: Understanding the Dichotomy Between Empirical Criminological Perturbation and Social Movement Values and Development

Mary Maerz    


With the increase in criminal legal actions available for violent conduct toward animals, the animal protection movement has seen increased success of prosecuting industrialized animal agriculture workers who are documented committing animal cruelty crimes via undercover investigations. With this, criticism has emerged that posits that the animal protection movement unjustifiably contributes to the mass incarceration epidemic in the United States and punishes undeserving actors. Empirical criminological research supports such criticism of a ?pro-carceral? animal law. Demographics of industrialized animal agricultural facilities reflect socioeconomic and racial disparities. The alleged ?link? between violence to animals and violence to humans does not rest on strong evidence. Furthermore, correlates demonstrated between slaughterhouse employment and extra-institutional community crime rates questions culpability of agricultural workers who commit animal cruelty. However, pro-carceral criticism fails to consider the core value of the animal rights movement as being apart from other anthropocentric social movements and said criticism asks the movement to put its fundamental moral and ethical imperatives aside. Furthermore, pro-carceral criticism fails to consider the role of such criminal prosecutions may play in social movement development theory.

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