in Houston, Texas
Pet thieves would face harsher punishment under plan by Texas state Rep. Eddie Lucio III
Wednesday, Mar 23, 2011, 11:45AM CST
By Mark Lisheron
puppy

Here is a novel idea for a state criminal justice system facing the loss of hundreds of millions of tax dollars and thousands of prison guards: Make stealing a pet a felony.

Sometimes you have to wonder if the people running your state government have the string between the two tin cans pulled tight enough or even if they bother to use the tin cans and string at all.

On the same day Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, warned of the dire consequences of cutting $294.3 million from his budget, Rep. Eddie Lucio III unleashed HB 1102, letting it upend furniture and sniff between the legs of the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.

Lucio, D-Brownsville, didn’t explain to the committee why he thought stealing a pet should be considered a state jail felony, as serious as stealing an official election ballot or fewer than 10 head of sheep, swine or goats or less than $20,000 worth of aluminum, bronze or copper wire.

It is also hard to figure, as Lucio contends in the fiscal note attached to the bill, how pet thievery, which would carry a maximum sentence of two years in a state jail and a $10,000 fine, would not be an additional burden on the state criminal justice system.

More important to Jurisprudence Committee Chairman Pete Gallego, D- Alpine, was whether sentencing should be based on the size of the pet. A slap on the wrist for making off with one of those cuddly sugar gliders or prosecuting to the fullest extent of the law the risky purloining of a komodo dragon, for example.

As is almost always the case with our Texas lawmakers, Lucio promised Gallego utmost clarity in a revision of the bill.
 
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Contact Mark Lisheron at 512-299-2318 or mark@texaswatchdog.org.

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Photo of a puppy by flickr user justmakeit, used via a Creative Commons license.
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