Animals in Criminal Justice
Throughout history, animals have participated in the criminal justice system as victims, perpetrators, executioners, evidence, weapons, and crime detectors. While their participation has usually been involuntary, they have participated nonetheless for many centuries. Considerable research now indicates that children's cruelty to animals is an important predictor of their violent behavior in adolescence and adulthood. Nonetheless, the role of animals in criminal justice has not been a major interest of either historians or criminologists. Although the protection of animals and animal rights draws much attention in American and other societies, there is no national database in the United States that provides information about the number of animal cruelty cases prosecuted each year. Although it seems rather strange to actually prosecute and punish animals for criminal offenses, animals were often placed on trial. These trials were held in the secular courts for individual animals that had typically caused a person's injury or ...