Carceral Progressivism and Animal Victims
Carceral Logics: Human Incarceration and Animal Confinement (Lori Gruen & Justin Marceau, eds.) (forthcoming Cambridge University Press 2021)
19 Pages Posted: 12 Jul 2021 Last revised: 22 Jul 2021
Date Written: July 7, 2021
This chapter places the criminalization of harm to non-human animals within a larger context of left and progressive efforts to use criminal law to address social problems. This chapter treats the animal welfare movement’s turn to criminal legal solutions as a case study of the broader phenomenon of “carceral progressivism.” Specifically, the chapter identifies this case study as reflecting two particularly common features of left or progressive criminalization projects: (1) the presence of a particularly vulnerable class of victims; and (2) the claim that criminal law can send a message about society’s respect for that class of victims and condemnation of harm done to them. Ultimately, the chapter argues that carceral progressivism – despite its ostensibly egalitarian or left commitments – risks reinscribing and legitimating the evils of the carceral state.
Keywords: criminal law, abolition, decarceration, mass incarceration, overcriminalization, expressivism, victims’ rights, animal rights, carceral progressivism
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