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A good idea, not thought through enough

A while ago, three boys in Andover, Massachusetts were arrested for animal cruelty. They had videotaped themselves on a psychotic rampage through a camp, torturing and killing animals, including setting one chicken on fire with an improvised blow torch and blowing up frogs with firecrackers. They were recently convicted, and as part of their sentence they were ordered to perform 120 hours of service at an animal shelter.

The judge's idea was, presumably, to teach them compassion for animals, and to see the aftereffects of animal abuse. On the surface, a decent notion.

One catch: nobody asked the animal shelters if they wanted to have these teenagers working on their premises. And they don't.

They are very uncomfortable, to say the least, at having them on their premises. Animal cruelty is a hallmark of a future serial killer, and even if they just like hurting and killing animals and progress no further, an animal shelter is the last place they should be. One shelter director likened it to putting a pedophile in a day-care center.

While I think the idea of trying to help these kida learn a bit of compassion, there's absolutely no obligation of the shelters to cooperate. And if they feel that strongly, then the kids ought to be kept far, far away.

If that means that they can't complete that aspect of their sentence, then so be it. Let them go back to court and hammer out an alternative, or go into detention.


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Comments (20)

"Animal cruelty is a hallma... (Below threshold)

"Animal cruelty is a hallmark of a future serial killer"

Absolutely right. That is why it is imperative that these kids are shown that such actions have consequences. And the consequences better be more than just petting animals.

Animal shelters are non-pro... (Below threshold)

Animal shelters are non-profits which have
a) charitable purposes in their bylaws and incorporating documents that restrict what the shelter can do;
b) hiring and volunteer policies validly approved by the board, the executive officers and the membership;
c) insurance; and
d) donors with certain expectations.

Accepting young offenders to work out their probabation is likely outside a) in breach of b) and c) and would horrify d) donors, especially if not consulted.

Animal shelters should ensure that they deal iwth a) b) c) and d) and that they need to have a policy for accepting young offenders on probation, a procedure, adequate and properly trained staff to supervise young offenders, agreements in writing with the offender, probabion officer, the parents, the court etc.

I doubt that the shelter's insurers would permit this use without additional insurance.

There is a great deal of di... (Below threshold)

There is a great deal of difference between cruelty to animals and cruelty to humans. I do agree that the "punishment" in this case, as you describe it, is laughable.

I think the best remedy is to lock them up for a year or two. Try to instill the values of our society upon them. If that can even be done in a jail or prison. I have my doubts about that.

I do not particularly value animal life highly, but I do not advocate unnessary cruelty either. I know that many people love their pets. As do I. But there is a great deal of difference from an animal and a human.

These particular culprits sound like they need some severe punishment. Along with their guardians or parents.

However, I find this stuff minimal compared to child abuse, which is not addressed in any satisfactory fashion either. Our courts are becoming so incompetent it makes me want to upchuck.

PSTorturing animals ... (Below threshold)

Torturing animals is not a disorder that can be fixed by having children take care of animals.

This is a serious psychiatric disfunction that requires ongoing psychiatric care. Accordingly, the risk to the shelter of accepting such offenders on its premises is too great, becuase the shelter would need to have the following:
a)an appropriate mechanism to ensure that the offender
i) is in appropriate psychiatric care;
ii) has been certified in writing by the treating psychiatrist as being safe for animals and in addition being ready to care for animals and work with adults in industry
iii) is not a risk to anyone attending the shelter (families adopting, suppliers and donors dropping off stuff)
iv) is not in trouble with the law in any other ways (recently shoplifting, bullying, child abusing, etc.)

I don't see how animal shelters can possibly provide this kind of mechanism - money donated is to ensure the animals are safe!

Please note the restriction... (Below threshold)

Please note the restrictions on the teens in the reported case, including therapy, probation and a participation in Ani-Care Child Model, a treatment program for youth who harm animals used in 30 states inthe US.
This STILL DOESN"T MEAN that any one Animal Shelter has the legal right to take on such children without express authority from its members, donors, executive board, directors and insurers. But it sets a MINIMUM STANDARD that any animal shelter that wants to participate should require before giving its permission.

Animal-abuse kids will work to stop cruelty
By Rita Savard

Counseling, classes about Anti-Semitism and 120 hours of community service at a local animal shelter are part of a two-year probation sentence for three Andover teens accused of killing and torturing animals at Camp Evergreen in May.

Judge Mark Newman found all three boys, ages 13, 14 and 15, delinquent on charges of vandalism and animal cruelty in Lawrence District Juvenile Court on Tuesday. The judge made his decision after viewing about two and a half hours of video footage shot by the teens themselves as they engaged in a vandalism spree at the Jenkins Road day camp. Several veteran police officers described theirs to be the worst animal cruelty case they had ever seen.

For the judge to find the teens delinquent, he had to find that the boys committed the acts beyond a reasonable doubt - the same burden of proof that applies in adult criminal trials.

"It was a horrendous crime," said Andover police Lt. Kevin Winters. "But I think the judge's decision was fair. Hopefully it will help the kids to learn from their mistakes."

Jim Loscutoff, owner of Camp Evergreen, said he hopes the judge's ruling was the right one, but ultimately, "it's up to the parents now to make sure it works."

Last month, the three boys admitted to sufficient facts on charges of animal cruelty, trespassing, malicious destruction of property over $250, possession of a BB gun without a permit, and malicious damage to a motor vehicle. Two of the boys also admitted to sufficient facts on a charge of attempting to commit a crime (breaking and entering). By doing so, the defendants were agreeing that, had the case gone to trial, there would be enough evidence for a jury to return delinquent findings.

The boys' defense attorney sought to have the cases continued without findings while the Commonwealth wanted the boys to be found delinquent and committed to state custody until their 18th birthdays, according to Steve O'Connell, spokesman for the Essex County District Attorney's office.

The boys have two months to make restitution to Loscutoff in the amount of $2,243 for destroying property, and $680 to neighbor Arthur Gonzalves for smashing up his truck.

Also as part of their probation, the boys are to remain in counseling and therapy as determined by their therapists and the probation department. A requirement of their treatment calls for all three teens to enter and complete the AniCare Child Model, a specialized 12- to 15-week program tailored to deal with juveniles who abuse animals, O'Connell said.

The AniCare Child Model is the first published treatment approach that focuses exclusively on juvenile cruelty to animals. Now used in 30 states, it focuses on two goals: empathy development and self management.

The judge also ordered the boys to perform 120 hours of community service at the MSPCA in Lawrence or Methuen, or at a similar agency, and to complete the Anti-Semitism class in the Juvenile Justice Program at the District Attorney's Office. They must remain drug- and alcohol-free and are subject to random urine screens.

"The judge's decision sounds right," said Jack Drewry, a professor of juvenile case law at the Massachusetts School of Law in Andover. "I'm glad to know that judges are looking for ways to sentence juveniles that go to the root of the problem. These classes will be more meaningful to (the boys) in the long term than punishing them in ways that wouldn't really teach them anything about their actions."

Those actions were filmed beginning on Wednesday, May 11 as two boys walked through the woods around Camp Evergreen. After finding a fishing rod, the boys took turns filming each other using it to beat some of Loscutoff's pet chickens, said police. On Thursday, May 12, the two teens returned with a third boy and a backpack containing firecrackers, an aerosol can, a lighter, a knife and two pellet guns, said police. The video showed the boys beating the birds with lacrosse sticks, attempting to drown one in the camp pond and using a makeshift blowtorch to set another on fire. Loscutoff said one of the chickens was found with its head cut off. Three chickens died as a result of the attacks.

The boys also captured frogs and placed them in the center of a swastika they had spray painted on the ground. Police said the teens "torched it alive," and used firecrackers to blow up several baby frogs.

After waiting five months for an apology, Loscutoff finally received one on Tuesday.

"They read a prepared apology in front of the judge," Loscutoff said. "It was better than nothing. I hope it was meaningful and true."

Loscutoff, who had previously told the Townsman he just wanted the boys "to grow up to be good," said even though he is trying to put the incident behind him, some images keep playing over in his mind.

"The thing that was most disappointing happened when we caught the 14-year-old-boy on the property," Loscutoff said. "We had his video camera and he said 'I'm only 14, I don't know any better.' I hope he knows better."

Here's a comment in support... (Below threshold)

Here's a comment in support of JT's basic premise, even though subsequent posts have attempted to clarify the issue in favor of the sentencing:

While well meaning actions by the judge, and comments about therapy, etc., I have absolutely no faith that these individuals with clear sociopathic traits are being entered into a program with a postive track record for other sociopaths. I have not heard of a treatment that teaches sociopaths empathy. I'd love to be wrong, but I fear that unless these individuals are locked away for life, they will again perpetrate harm on others. Perhaps I've seen Clockwork Orange a few too many times, or maybe I've seen what happens to these types in prison, or what they've done once released too many times.

Personally, I'd rather burn them all at the stake now.

"'I'm only 14, I don... (Below threshold)
B Moe:

"'I'm only 14, I don't know any better.' "

What more info do you need? Defective merchandise is best just returned to the manufacturer.

The government animal shelt... (Below threshold)

The government animal shelters I've been involved with have nothing to do with petting animals and helping them find homes. Sure, they do what they can. But most of those animals go into the gas chamber. Millions a year in the U.S.

JT, are you talking about a county animal shelter or a private non-profit? Neither is a good idea for kids like that.

I grew up with a kid (I wouldn't call him a friend) who threw a dog from one balcony and broke its back over the railing of the balcony on the next story down. Then he crushed a kitten's skull with his fist. He did 4 years in Folsom for that second offense and then he wasn't out more than a couple of years before he raped a woman, and drove her van to a river bed that is notorious in our community as a place where bodies and evidence are dumped. She escaped while he was sleeping. I think people who commit any kind of violence shouldn't be let out until there is some reason to believe they won't do it again.

Animal cruelty is a hal... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Animal cruelty is a hallmark of a future serial killer that or of an
incumbent President. Indeed, the blowing up frogs with firecrackers, could well be the precursor for graver acts of wanton cruelty, later in life.

Perhaps Andover MA has a mo... (Below threshold)

Perhaps Andover MA has a mounted police unit that needs the stalls mucked out every day for a month.

Obviously, the "judge" resp... (Below threshold)

Obviously, the "judge" responsible for this feeble, harmful "punishment" was influenced by whatever it may be other than maturity, sense and reality. I'd say you can find more problems there given the inanity of this "sentence" given the dastardly and foreboding behavior of these maladjusted fools.

The idiots with these troub... (Below threshold)

The idiots with these troubled behaviors need far more intervention than mucking out stalls and such -- they need psychiatric help as do their families at least merit counseling to the extent that the problems are exposed as to why this behavior has manifested.

They need a change of social, emotional scenery and THEN they can be required to complete rudimentary chores. Without it, they'll be completing rudimentary chores farther down the line from the pen.

SEveral random comments:<br... (Below threshold)

SEveral random comments:
1. These kids are definitely scary lads, and they need serious intervention- and if that intervention is to lock them up, I'm okay with that.
That said, I have my doubts about how accurate the current psychological theory that all kids who are cruel to animals grow up to be serial killers. I remember when they said kids who slept in the same bed or even room with their parents grew up to have split personalities. Turned out they forgot to find out what so-called 'normal' families did for sleeping arrangements (and the whole of Japan, of course, would be a nation of split personalities).
I know several very nice, responsible, decent men who were not always nice to critters when they were young. They learned better. I think a lot of young boys have trouble with impulse control and empathy, and they do not all grow up to be psychopaths.
That said, none of these nice men would have done anything like set a live chicken on fire. Yuck. These are scary kids, and I'm quite comfortable with applying the word sociopath to them and locking them for a very long time.

2. "'I'm only 14, I don't know any better.' "
I read this to my teens, and my 15 y.o. said "If you can say that you're not old enough to know better, then you do know better."

3. One of the Progeny works at our local county animal shelter. Metromesa, that may be how they do things in your part of the country, but in our rural community that ain't how it's done. Maybe it's the difference between a private and a county shelter? I would guess the judge assigned them to a county shelter- as they get all the riff raff.
For a very long time the staff at the shelter where my daughter works had to supervise 'community service' workers assigned to them by the court. They were not allowed to know what crimes had been committed by the community service workers because that would violate the criminals' privacy rights. They could turn down a worker, and my 5 foot tall, very petite daughter would always turn down males, but it really bothered her that she could not ask what crime they were guilty of and make a determination based on that.

Recently the board changed the policy, primarily because the board has power issues and partly because of insurance reasons- a volunteer (NOT a community service person) got bitten. But for years that was one of the favorite community service sentences around here.

Steve C, I see your post an... (Below threshold)

Steve C, I see your post and link as an act of wanton cruelty. I mean, inflicting such circuitous logic and libel as an appropriate link in an otherwise erudite discussion. Lets burn you at the stake too...

I say great idea. I even kn... (Below threshold)

I say great idea. I even know just the Shelter they should go to, too.

While in Florida visiting my cousin my brother and I, went to one of the largest non-lethal shelters in the state. I was interested in seeing the cats, my brother, the dogs. They had over 500 cats! They only had about 20 dogs or so. Then they had a seperate area that people were not allowed to go into. I think that's the area they should have to do their service in.

The area I am speaking about are the dogs with brain damage, due to being hit by cars. They only had 3 or 4 dogs in there. They're absolutely adorable animals, They're lovable, and even very affectionate. They'll also rip your throat out in a manner of seconds. Not because they are viscious, but their brains are damaged. I literally watched a playful dog go insta-viscious with a toy. Was the scariest thing I've ever seen. I don't even know what kind of dog he was, but he was atleast 110 pounds.

One moment he was playing and frolicking, the next he was the most scary thing you'll ever see. The change was instant and completely unpredictable.

I asked why they don't put them to sleep, their response was simple. They're not in pain, they're not suffering, and they're not viscious animals.

So yes, send these youngn's to this animal shelter, let them play with the puppies. I can promise you this. If they survive the encounter, they'll think twice about messing with a dog ever again.

On animal cruelty:I'... (Below threshold)

On animal cruelty:
I'm not certain about "ALL" young boys who mistreat animals become killers etc., but I do know that an awful lot of pet lovers have no compunction about murdering the pre-born child. "There is a world of difference between a rat and a boy" to paraphrase a famous eco-phrase. We live in a world where animal cruelty is the highest evil and murdering our own children the highest good - called "choice!"

Epador, regards your comme... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

Epador, regards your comment at 8:27 p.m. , I am merely passing on a May 21, 2000 New York Times' piece on about the values Bush gained growing up in Midland, Texas, Nicholas D. Kristof quoted Bush's childhood friend Terry Throckmorton: "'We were terrible to animals,' recalled Mr. Throckmorton, laughing. A dip behind the Bush home turned into a small lake after a good rain, and thousands of frogs would come out. 'Everybody would get BB guns and shoot them,' Mr. Throckmorton said. 'Or we'd put firecrackers in the frogs and throw them and blow them up."...The MSMedia blew off these charges when they were released during the election campaign in 2000.. Lets just say it was a circle of Texas friends of which Bush was part of... Unlike the other lads from Andover in this thread, Andover, Ma., in the form of Philips Academy, seems to have had a salubrious effect, on the young Bush. But then again later at Yale, in the same New York Times in a interview, Bush defended the branding of fraternity pledges with a hot coat hanger, saying the resulting wounds resembled "only a cigarette burn.. By the way, Bush would be the first to characterize his youthful behavior as reckless. His stay in Andover, being ironically the only period he wasn't abusive. This may or may not be relevant to the main discussion.It is too bad we couldn't ask him?

Oh come on, Crick. Everyone... (Below threshold)

Oh come on, Crick. Everyone knows the central nervous system of your typical Yalie isn't anywhere near as developed as that of a Texas pond frog.

The link in your post I was... (Below threshold)

The link in your post I was referring to was definitely not to the NYT. [http://www.maineanimalcoalition.org/artman/publish/article_289.shtml] So you are also disingenous as well? I recommend drawing and quartering for that offense.

Wait till PETA gets word of... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

Wait till PETA gets word of it they will want the heads of these miserble punks






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