BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
                             Senator Loni Hancock, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:    SB 1395       Hearing Date:    April 12, 2016    
          
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          |Author:    |Stone                                                |
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          |Version:   |February 19, 2016                                    |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant:|MK                                                   |
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                           Subject:  Crimes:  Animal Abuse



          HISTORY
          Source:   Author

          Prior Legislation:SB 917 (Lieu) - Chapter 131, Stats 2011
                         AB 2012 (Lieu) - vetoed 2010 
                         AB 1122 (Lieu) - vetoed 2009

          Support:  Several individuals

          Opposition:American Civil Liberties Union; California Attorneys  
                    for Criminal Justice; California Public Defenders  
                    Association; Legal Services for Prisoners with  
                    Children

                                                
          PURPOSE
          
          The purpose of this bill is to increase the felony penalty for  
          animal abuse.
          
          Existing law provides that every person who maliciously and  
          intentionally maims, mutilates, tortures, or wounds a living  
          animal, or maliciously and intentionally kills an animal is  
          guilty of a crime. (Penal Code  597 (a).) 








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          Existing law states that every person having charge or custody  
          of an animal who overdrives; overloads; overworks; tortures;  
          torments; deprives of necessary sustenance, drink, or shelter;  
          cruelly beats, mutilates, or cruelly kills; or causes or  
          procures any animal to be so overdriven; overloaded; driven when  
          overloaded; overworked; tortured; tormented; deprived of  
          necessary sustenance, drink, shelter; or to be cruelly beaten,  
          mutilated, or cruelly killed is guilty of a crime for every such  
          offense. (Penal Code  597 (b).)

          Existing law provides that every person who maliciously and  
          intentionally maims, mutilates, or tortures a mammal, bird,  
          reptile, amphibian, or fish is guilty of a crime. (Penal Code   
          597(c))

          Existing law provides that the penalty for the above is a  
          wobbler punishable as a jail felony punishable by 16 months, 2  
          or 3 years or by up to one year in county jail and/or by a fine  
          of not more than $20,000, plus penalty assessments.

          This bill changes the felony penalty for the above to a jail  
          felony for 3, 4 or 6 years and/or a fine of not more than  
          $40,000 plus penalty assessments.  The misdemeanor penalty  
          remains the same.
                    RECEIVERSHIP/OVERCROWDING CRISIS AGGRAVATION

          For the past several years this Committee has scrutinized  
          legislation referred to its jurisdiction for any potential  
          impact on prison overcrowding.  Mindful of the United States  
          Supreme Court ruling and federal court orders relating to the  
          state's ability to provide a constitutional level of health care  
          to its inmate population and the related issue of prison  
          overcrowding, this Committee has applied its "ROCA" policy as a  
          content-neutral, provisional measure necessary to ensure that  
          the Legislature does not erode progress in reducing prison  
          overcrowding.   

          On February 10, 2014, the federal court ordered California to  
          reduce its in-state adult institution population to 137.5% of  
          design capacity by February 28, 2016, as follows:   

                 143% of design bed capacity by June 30, 2014;
                 141.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2015; and,
                 137.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2016. 








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          In December of 2015 the administration reported that as "of  
          December 9, 2015, 112,510 inmates were housed in the State's 34  
          adult institutions, which amounts to 136.0% of design bed  
          capacity, and 5,264 inmates were housed in out-of-state  
          facilities.  The current population is 1,212 inmates below the  
          final court-ordered population benchmark of 137.5% of design bed  
          capacity, and has been under that benchmark since February  
          2015."  (Defendants' December 2015 Status Report in Response to  
          February 10, 2014 Order, 2:90-cv-00520 KJM DAD PC, 3-Judge  
          Court, Coleman v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (fn. omitted).)  One  
          year ago, 115,826 inmates were housed in the State's 34 adult  
          institutions, which amounted to 140.0% of design bed capacity,  
          and 8,864 inmates were housed in out-of-state facilities.   
          (Defendants' December 2014 Status Report in Response to February  
          10, 2014 Order, 2:90-cv-00520 KJM DAD PC, 3-Judge Court, Coleman  
          v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (fn. omitted).)  
           
          While significant gains have been made in reducing the prison  
          population, the state must stabilize these advances and  
          demonstrate to the federal court that California has in place  
          the "durable solution" to prison overcrowding "consistently  
          demanded" by the court.  (Opinion Re: Order Granting in Part and  
          Denying in Part Defendants' Request For Extension of December  
          31, 2013 Deadline, NO. 2:90-cv-0520 LKK DAD (PC), 3-Judge Court,  
          Coleman v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (2-10-14).  The Committee's  
          consideration of bills that may impact the prison population  
          therefore will be informed by the following questions:

              Whether a proposal erodes a measure which has contributed  
               to reducing the prison population;
              Whether a proposal addresses a major area of public safety  
               or criminal activity for which there is no other  
               reasonable, appropriate remedy;
              Whether a proposal addresses a crime which is directly  
               dangerous to the physical safety of others for which there  
               is no other reasonably appropriate sanction; 
              Whether a proposal corrects a constitutional problem or  
               legislative drafting error; and
              Whether a proposal proposes penalties which are  
               proportionate, and cannot be achieved through any other  
               reasonably appropriate remedy.










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          COMMENTS

          1.  Need for This Bill

          According to the author:

               Protecting animals, including our pets, from abuse  
               should be an important goal in California and across  
               the nation.  It has become such a problem in the U.S.  
               that the FBI announced in 2014 that for the first time,  
               they would begin to add cruelty to animals as a  
               category in the agency's Uniform Crime Report.  Whether  
               it is because of the special bond between pets and  
               humans, or because there is a need to protect those who  
               can't speak for themselves, animal cruelty laws are a  
               very important part of keeping our public safe.

               Preventing animal cruelty is more than protecting our  
               pets.  There is a strong link between people who abuse  
               animals and those who commit other violent crimes.   
               According to the American Humane Society, in  
               conjunction with the National Coalition Against  
               Domestic Violence, there are some very sobering  
               statistics.   70% of animal abusers also had records  
               for other crimes. Domestic violence victims whose  
               animals were abused saw the animal cruelty as one more  
               violent episode in a long history of indiscriminate  
               violence aimed at them and their vulnerability.   71%  
               of pet-owning women entering women's shelters reported  
               that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or  
               threatened family pets for revenge or to  
               psychologically control victims.  Even more troubling,  
               abusers may kill, harm, or threaten a child's pets in  
               order to coerce them into sexual abuse or to force them  
               to remain silent about abuse.

               For whatever the reason, abuse of our furry (or  
               feathered) friends should carry a very strong penalty.   








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               Luckily, current law already makes animal torture or  
               abuse a felony, and carries a penalty of 16 months, or  
               2 or 3 years in county jail, and/or a fine of $20,000.   
               Senator Stone does not believe that this penalty goes  
               far enough.  SB 1395 would double the fine to $40,000,  
               and would increase the sentence in county jail to 2, 3,  
               or 4 years.  Passage of this bill will signal that  
               California will not tolerate those who abuse animals  
               and deserve a harsher sentence for the crimes they have  
               committed.

          2.  Increased Penalty for Animal Abuse 
          
          The current penalty for animal abuse is a wobbler with a jail  
          felony and a fine of up $20,000 plus penalty assessments.  This  
          bill would increase the penalty by increasing the felony portion  
          of the wobbler to 3, 4 or 6 years in county jail and a fine of  
          not more than $40,000 plus penalty assessments.

          Until budget year 2002-2003, there was 170% in penalty  
          assessments applied to every fine.  Current penalty assessments  
          are approximately 310% plus $79 in additional flat assessments.   
            With penalty assessments the current $20,000 fine in this bill  
          is actually approximately $82,000.  Under this bill the $40,000  
          fine would actually be approximately $164,000, thus an increase  
          of $82,000 over the existing fine.  

          The behavior punished in the section covered by these penalties  
          ranges from torture to failing to provide an animal with proper  
          shelter.  Is the increase in jail time and fine appropriate for  
          all these offenses?


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