BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 2281
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   April 30, 2008

                                  Mark Leno, Chair

                    AB 2281 (Nava) - As Amended:  April 15, 2008 

          Policy Committee:                              Public  
          SafetyVote:  7-0

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          Yes    Reimbursable:              No

          This bill increases the penalty, from a misdemeanor, punishable  
          by up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to  
          $1,000, to a wobbler, punishable by up to one year in county  
          jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000, or 16 months, 2, or 3 years  
          in state prison, for being present as a spectator at a dogfight,  
          as specified.  

           FISCAL EFFECT 
          1)Significant annual GF costs, potentially in excess of $1  
            million, for increased state prison commitments. Should two  
            dozen spectators, out of the alleged thousands of spectators,  
            be committed to state prison, annual costs would exceed $1  

          2)This bill, by creating a new felony, would also create  
            additional - and costly - third strike exposure, triggering a  
            life term for persons with two prior violent or serious  
            felonies, or a double term for a person with one prior serious  
            or violent felony. If one person per year received a third  
            strike as a result of a felony conviction under this bill, the  
            annual cost in 10 years would exceed $400,000.  

          3)Significant nonreimbursable local law enforcement and  
            incarceration costs for increased county jail commitments. 
           1)Rationale  . The author contends that dog fighting is a sadistic  
            sport and that increasing the penalties for spectatorship will  


                                                                  AB 2281
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            deter attendance and thus incidence. 

            The Humane Society of the United States contends that tens of  
            thousands of people are involved in dog fighting and that  
            punishing spectatorship as a misdemeanor creates "a loophole  
            that makes it more difficult for law enforcement officials to  
            effectively prosecute dog fighters. Typically, organized dog  
            fights occur with several matches held one after the other.  
            When police raid a dog fight it is extremely difficult to  
            differentiate between spectators and participants who were  
            going to fight their dog in the next match. This creates a  
            loophole allowing many dog fighters to avoid prosecution, or  
            be subject to minimal penalties." 

           2)Concerns  . 
             a)   Should the penalty for being a spectator at a dogfight  
               be the same as the penalty for actually training and  
               fighting the dogs  ? Is the current six-month county jail  
               penalty inadequate? Should the penalty for spectatorship at  
               a dogfight be greater than the penalty for spectatorship at  
               a cockfight (six months and/or a fine of up to $1,000)?

              b)   This bill would make spectatorship at a dogfight a third  
               strike  . 

              c)   Given current fiscal conditions and prison overcrowding,  
               increasing the prison population for this offense may be  
               problematic  . The state is in the throes of a 2008-09 budget  
               deficit that may exceed $15 billion. Current prison  
               overcrowding is under review by federal courts. Plaintiffs  
               are requesting emergency inmate releases, perhaps on a  
               scale of tens of thousands of inmates.  The governor is  
               proposing no state prison time for short-term inmates (less  
               than 20 months to serve) and summary parole release. The  
               federal prison receiver is ordering the state to spend an  
               additional $7 billion for inmate health care facilities in  
               addition to the current $6 billion prison construction  

           3)Opposition  . According to CA Attorneys for Criminal Justice  
            (CACJ), "?. there is no sound policy basis to punish someone  
            in the spectator status equally with the organizers and  
            perpetrators of the crime of dog fighting. The organizers and  
            persons engaging in raising dogs for dog fights are already  


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            punishable on the felony level. The crime of being a spectator  
            is also already punished, and is punished on a level  
            commensurate with the individual's involvement, as a  
            misdemeanor. To increase punishment to allow state prison  
            sentences for this activity without any basis to show this  
            would either deter or prevent illegal activity, we believe  
            would be a senseless escalation of penalty." 

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Geoff Long / APPR. / (916) 319-2081