Letter: In Massachusetts courts, no justice for abused animals

Posted 10/21/20

To the editor:

Attorney General Healey’s decision to drop the animal abuse charges against the remaining 11 defendants in the Westport Tenant Farm case was terribly disappointing, but not …

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Letter: In Massachusetts courts, no justice for abused animals

Posted

To the editor:

Attorney General Healey’s decision to drop the animal abuse charges against the remaining 11 defendants in the Westport Tenant Farm case was terribly disappointing, but not altogether surprising. The prosecution knew from the get-go that no one would see a jail cell, that no serious penalties would be imposed.

I attended most all the court hearings, as they bounced from judge to judge and around three different Massachusetts superior court locations through the circuit court turnstile. After watching defendant after defendant walk away with a suspended sentence or CWOF (continuance without finding), I asked AG staff why they weren’t pressing for harsher sentencing. I was told it wouldn't matter what the state asked for in terms of sentencing, as “judges won’t give jail time or significant fines to animal abusers.”

Over 600 animals were found in deplorable condition on the same property in 2010. Erstwhile Bristol County District Attorney Sam Sutter declined to prosecute (although he was present in the courtroom this time around as attorney for one of the defendants, a man who’d also been charged in the 2010 case.) State officials didn’t bother to follow up and Westport Board of Health staff continued to look the other way. They are all culpable in the 2016 redux involving over twice as many animals.

What we have is systemic failure to keep animals safe from neglect and abuse at every level of government—from local officials and state agency administrators who don’t do their jobs, to state laws Swiss-cheesed with loopholes, to weak-willed prosecutors, to judges who perennially let animal abusers walk.

There is no justice for abused animals. At the end of the day, the Massachusetts legal system makes sure of that.

Constance Gee

Westport

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