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Senators Seek Stiffer Cockfighting Penalties




A pair of S.C. Senators are pushing legislation that would increase fines and punishments for individuals who engage in cockfighting – and create a new charge for individuals who attend cockfights.

It’s part of a renewed effort to crackdown on this illegal, barbaric practice … because let’s face it: We can’t always rely on roosters to exact their own vengeance (even Foghorn Leghorn).

Anway, the bill – S. 157 – is sponsored by Senators Katrina Shealy and Greg Hembree.  It would make cockfighting a felony on the second offense and allow prison sentences of up to five years for second and subsequent offenses.  It would also impose new mandatory minimum fines for first, second and subsequent offenses.

We have no problem with that part of the legislation …

As we’ve said repeatedly, this website “rejects the inhumane treatment of animals – be it dogfighting, bear-baying or cockfighting.  Such activities are disgusting, and we have zero tolerance for individuals who engage in them.”

But what about the proposed legislation’s attempt to criminalize the behavior of those who are, in its own words, “present at any structure, facility, or location where preparations are being made for the purpose of cockfighting with knowledge that those preparations are being made or with knowledge that cockfighting is taking place or is about to take place?”

Does such language – and the fines and punishments the legislation would assign to such behavior – cast too wide a net?

We think so …

Don’t get us wrong: There ought to be severe punishments imposed on those who participate in cockfights, wager on their outcome or pay to attend them.  This is especially true in South Carolina, which saw its state agriculture commissioner indicted on cockfighting charges in 2004.

But can we really go all “pre-crime” on individuals who happen to be present in the vicinity of such events?  Especially in such broad terms as this bill proposes?

We don’t think so …

Shealy and Hembree’s bill represents a good start on a very worthwhile issue.  In fact we wouldn’t mind it if some of the fines and punishments were made even steeper.  Hopefully future versions of this legislation will do that … while modifying the worrisome “pre-crime” language.

What do you think?  Share your thoughts in our comments section below …