The Canine CellMates initiative is an innovative approach that pairs defendants with dogs that aren’t as adoptable, working on mutual rehabilitation and support so they become better people and more adoptable animals. This webinar looks into how the program significantly reduces court and incarceration costs among other outcomes that benefit the dogs, the individuals, and the community.
Leading the discussion are David Rosengard and Jill Hollander. David is the managing attorney in the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s (ALDF) Criminal Justice Program who works across the justice system to pursue justice for animal cruelty victims and better position animals as a whole within the law. Meanwhile, Jill is the lead prosecutor for animal crimes in Fulton County and previously served as Chief of their Crimes Against Animals Division.
Specifics they discussed in the session include:
- Disambiguating criminal law and criminal justice system where the former deals with the concept and the latter deals with implementation.
- The two types of crime based on how they are considered as crime.
- The six penological goals that society tends to choose from when pursuing how it wants to express that an action is not acceptable.
- Social media’s affinity for retribution as a penological goal and understanding how this is never relevant when examining it from an animal-forward jurisprudence lens.
- The Link: What it is, how it is originally conceptualized, and the modern understanding that looks into general deviance, neglect to self and others, and adverse childhood experiences.
- A study that assesses the positive side of the link and the bond between humans and animals.
- An overview of the Canine Cellmates Program – its inception, how it is funded, its scope and limits, and how it tries to address Georgia’s law on recidivism and challenges with the surplus of animals in shelters.
- How diversion programs such as Beyond the Bars try to address these issues through a rehabilitative approach rather than purely punitive measures.
- Eligibility to the Canine Cellmates Program based on gender, age, and contact with the justice system.
- The case selection process: How cases are referred, the process for reviewing cases, and the requirements that the offenders must abide by to be a part of the program.
- The program’s structured phases focus on intensive initial engagement, gradually reducing in-person time while maintaining support and education.
- The impact of the program on the individual, the animal, and the community that alludes its success to positive reinforcement as a core principle.
- The program’s multiple benefits in terms of restoring families, reintegrating offenders into the community, increasing employability, reducing recidivism, providing lifelong support to both the offenders and the animals, fostering justice system cooperation, and reducing financial costs.
- Challenges experienced while implementing the program as it related to stable housing, transportation, suitable locations, managing dog numbers, and navigating systemic justice hurdles.
- A video that demonstrates the outcomes of both the offenders and the animals after being a part of the program.
Questions from the webinar attendees are about:
- Data to support the benefits of the program.
- Where the program takes place in.
- Assigning the offenders with the dogs.
- The program’s funding sources.
- Obtaining a model outline for the program.
Other Webinars with this Organization
- Feb 13, 2024: Better Futures for Animals – And With – Animals: The Canine Cellmates Model for Post-Conviction Animal Care Programs (this webinar)
- May 7: Tribal Law and Animal Law
- Aug 22: Fowl Play: Cockfighting’s History, Impact, and Future in the US and Territories
- Nov 5: Using Innovative Alternatives to Incarceration and Recognizing the Role of Trauma in Violence against Animals
Resources and Handouts
- Handout: Press Release – Kate Mara to Pay Adoption Fees for All Canine CellMate Dog Graduates in Need of Immediate Homes
- Handout: Animal Cruelty’s Link to Other Forms of Violence
- Handout: The Power of a Positive Human-Animal Relationship for Animal Welfare
- Handout: ALDF Criminal Justice Program Investigations Team: Animal Cruelty Case Offerings
- Handout: ALDF Criminal Justice: Assisting Law Enforcement Handling Animal Cruelty Cases
- Video: Beyond the Bars (Canine Cellmates) Inaugural Class
- Canine Cellmates Website
- “Excellent webinar. Inspiring model!”
- “Very interesting topic. I want to learn more about this. I would also like to see videos of the participants interacting with the dogs.”
- “I loved the seminar, I found it extremely interesting and wish we had more programs like this.”
- “I liked learning that the reoffending of violent crimes did not happen with those who graduated from the program. The part talking about how children are exposed to animals at a young age can shape them.”
Founded in 1979, the Animal Legal Defense Fund’s mission is to protect the lives and advance the interests of animals through the legal system. The Animal Legal Defense Fund accomplishes this mission by filing high-impact lawsuits to protect animals from harm, providing free legal assistance and training to prosecutors to assure that animal abusers are held accountable for their crimes, supporting tough animal protection legislation and fighting legislation harmful to animals, and providing resources and opportunities to law students and professionals to advance the emerging field of animal law.
This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.