By Bob Katzen

Senate 19-17, approved an amendment to strike a section of the bill that allows adult criminal sentences for animal cruelty to be applied to juveniles ages 14 to 17.

Supporters of allowing it said this gives prosecutors some flexibility in how to charge a youth. They cited a case in which a 14-year-old boy brutally tortured a friend’s dog and could not be charged or sentenced as an adult because the judge said the law allowing that only applies to human beings and not animals.

Opponents said putting juveniles in prison with adults results in them coming out worse than when they went in.

“I strongly support treating animal cruelty as the serious crime that it is,” said the amendment’s sponsor Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville). “But, we must be conscious of how we treat juveniles in any criminal context. Putting juveniles into adult prisons almost guarantees that those juveniles will never have their underlying mental health or emotional conditions resolved and will be far more likely to be released in their early adult years with adult criminal skills and thinking. We should not be unintentionally taking steps that train future criminal actors.”

Please read this vote carefully to see how your senator voted and what it means. The amendment would strike the section of the bill allows adult criminal sentences for animal cruelty to be applied to juveniles. Therefore, a “Yes” vote is against allowing it. A “No” vote is for allowing it.)

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