Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Should it be a felony to steal a $35 goat?

(Updated and corrected.) A senate bill being heard today in the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee - SB 1163 by Seliger - to me is a classic case study of how the road to hell (or at least bad public policy) is frequently paved with good intentions.

Sen. Seliger's bill would make it a third degree felony to steal any number of cattle, horses, or exotic fowl, regardless of their value a single goat, sheep, swine or any other type of livestock. Rep. Lois Kolkhorst is carrying the bill in the House. Judging from the witness list, this is a special-interest backed bill coming from the livestock industry.

CORRECTION (see below): My apologies for misreading the bill to increase penalties for goats, sheep and swine to a state jail felony when that was already the case. This penalty hike is only for cattle, horses, or exotic fowl and livestock, stealing one of which, if the bill passes, would be a third degree felony no matter what its value.

On the Senate floor, Seliger defended the bill as deterrence against cattle rustlers but it's actually written much broader than that. But these penalties are way too high for the offense. Does it make sense to give somebody a life-long "felony" tag for stealing a goat? Searching Craigslist I found a "Nigerian Dwarf Buck Goat" for sale in Caldwell, TX for $35. Should it really be a state jail felony if someone steals a $35 animal?

In addition to boosting penalties for petty livestock theft, Seliger's bill makes it an automatic third degree felony (2-10 years) to steal any number of cattle, horses, or exotic fowl, regardless of their value. But these animals are plenty valuable and the traditional framework for theft - the higher value the item, the heavier penalty - is perfectly reasonable for these purposes. There's no good reason at all to make a special exception for goats. Or cattle, or sheep. Or any other animal for that matter.

Beyond the policy madness of a felony rap for stealing a $35 goat, This bill raises a more general complaint I have about such legislation: The political process is not honest about what it would cost. As with all bills expanding incarceration at the Texas Legislature, the official "fiscal note" for SB 1163 claims the legislation is a freebie to taxpayers, but obviously that is false.

Clearly SB 1163 will categorize more petty thefts as felonies which means more people will enter state prisons a few people will receive longer sentences for the offense, but the Legislative Budget Board says there would be no fiscal impact from this bill. That's just silly: Boosting a new category of offenses to third-degree felony status means the state now must pay more incarceration costs for anyone convicted (at around $18K+ per year in Texas). And former Class A misdemeanors that will now be state jail felonies would cost the state incarceration dollars instead of the counties.

According to the bill's criminal justice impact statement, "During fiscal year 2008, five offenders were admitted to prison and 14 offenders were placed on felony probation for theft of livestock." But a state jail felony would mean only 2 years or less for those five imprisoned individuals, while a third degree felony involves a 2-10 year sentence. And some unknown number of people formerly charged with misdemeanors for stealing small animals will now be going to Texas state jails. How can that not cost taxpayers more money?

Seliger and Kolkhorst are actually among my favorite legislators at the capitol so this isn't intended to criticize them. (The same fiscal critique can be made of nearly every "enhancement" bill.) Instead my aim is to focus attention on an ongoing institutional folly of the first magnitude: The idea that every problem can be solved through more incarceration and it costs no money to do so.

As long as I've been around the Texas Legislature, they've allowed (or arguably, encouraged) LBB to tell them official lies ("no significant fiscal implication") in their fiscal notes about how much it costs to incarcerate people. And since nobody wants a fiscal note on their own "enhancement" bill, legislators all nod and smile and go along with it.

Texas already has 2,324 separate felonies on the books, including eleven involving oysters. I wonder how many felonies this will make involving goats?

UPDATE/CORRECTION: Well, everybody sometimes makes embarrassing mistakes and I suppose yesterday was my day - probably one of many but two readers caught this one in the comment section. I misread this bill not once, but twice, mistakenly thinking it increased the penalty for goat theft when (somewhat astonishingly) that is already a state jail felony. Only theft of cattle, horses, and exotic livestock would be affected by the bill. Consider this a humble mea culpa. It was a careless, unintentional error.

Even so, it's utterly ridiculous that theft of a $35 goat would get you a felony record (just like it's absurd that it's a state jail felony to graffiti a school).
As noted in the bill's criminal justice impact statement, only five people per year are sent to prison for livestock theft, but according to the cattle raisers association, last year "there were 970 cases of cattle thefts in Texas and Oklahoma, three times the number from the previous year." So it's not like they're catching a large enough percentage of cattle rustlers for the increased penalties to make a difference.

It costs $18,000 per year to incarcerate somebody in Texas prisons. So what if Texas reduced the penalty for livestock theft to the same value-based assessment we use for everything else and spent the money saved to support a single investigator at the Texas Rangers focused on livestock theft rings? I'll guarantee that would do more to actually solve the problem and in the long run it'd be cheaper, smarter and more effective.


Anonymous said...

I happen to have a $35.00 goat that got out and was picked up by some minors who took it home. It was eventually recovered and there were no legal entities involved.
If someone loaded a trailer with my cattle and took them to the sale barn that would be an entirely different matter.
Maybe the legislature should be required to remove at least one outdated law from the books for every new law passed.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Man, I wish you could tell that story to the Criminal Jurisprudence Committtee today!

The should keep the Class A misdemeanor level for petty livestock theft so some minor, childish incident like that doesn't get a kid pegged with a felony tag for life.

Rage Judicata said...

Raising goats should be a felony.

Smelly buggers.

Scott D said...

Since it seems like most folks get "deferred adjudication" how many are actually going to serve time for this? It's just more "get tough on crime" chicanery by the legislature to pander to a constituency.

Anonymous said...

I bet the people coming up with the new laws have to lay awake all nite just to dream up some of this crap. Horses are almost free at auctions, cattle are losing value and goats don't even count. Someone in North TX is selling a horse thats hes been feeding that was dumped on the side of the road. No one would claim it. Probably isn't broke to ride, maybe old, but is going to be cheap due to the cost of feed.

doran williams said...

We should all know better than to expect reasonable acts of the Texas Legislature. So many, if not all, of the Penal Code crimes reflect social biases, more than any kind of rational policy approach.

For instance, it is only a Class C misdemeanor to shoot and injure or kill your neighbor's $35.00 goat. So why should it be a felony to steal that same goat?

It is a Class A misdemeanor to have sex with your neighbor's goat, but only if you do it in such a manner as to be reckless about being seen by soneone who would be offended by the sight. This approach differs not at all from the prohibition against having sex in public with another human. Inherent in these penal code provisions is a determination by the Lege that having sex with a $35.00 goat in private in Texas is socially acceptable to the same extent as having sex with your spouse or with a $500.00 hooker in private.

It is not even considered cruelty to the goat to have sex with it.

Why should you expect anything reasonable from a Legislature which holds ideas like these?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Okay, Doran, I'm officially putting you in charge of compiling the list of goat-related offenses in Texas law. You've all but volunteered for it! :-)

doran williams said...

I hope to find one that makes it an offense for a bille goat to do something with an oyster.

Michael said...

This reminds me of my first day in Michael Tigar's criminal law class, wherein he wondered whether the statute making it a felony to steal "any part" of a cow would send someone to prison if they shoplifted a Big Mac.

But it's obvious to me why stealing a goat is a felony. Anyone who would steal a goat has to be a baaaaaaad person.

Lucas said...

I've read your blog for a month or so now and I must say you do a simply brilliant job. Regarding this post, I have a simple question. With 2300+ felonies on the books already, do these silly tough-on-crime bills stand a chance of passing? Is it political posturing for the next election, or do these things just sail through?

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Thanks, Lucas!

As to these bills' prospects, many tend to sail through, many fail. The Senate (thanks largely to Criminal Justice Committee Chair John Whitmre) tends to pass fewer of them, but many others don't go through his committee. With hundreds of new penalty hikes filed each session, if even one in five get through every two years, that can be a big incremental jump over time, which is why we have 2,324 felonies and thousands more misdemeanors in the first place.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Michael, you had to go there, didn't you? I'm glad someone did.

It's baaaaaad to steal goats, but this is still a baaaaaad bill.


Anonymous said...

All you city folks now nothing about making a living raising livestock.

123txpublicdefender123 said...

I still haven't gotten over the fact that they made prostitution a felony if you have 3 (or, maybe it's 2--I've been gone for too long) prior convictions. I mean, seriously? That is supposed to deter these women? These women who risk being assaulted, raped, and murdered every time they get into a car with a stranger? These women who care so little for themselves that they are giving oral sex for $10 dollars? You think the threat of a prison sentence is going to deter them?

Give me a break!

doran williams said...

Sheep baaaaaaaaaaaaaa, not goats. I know, not having been a city dweller since the late 60s and having raised sheep, goats, chickens, ducks, catfish and cattle in the interim.

Goats tend to make a sound which is difficult to replicate with letters on a computer screen. A billy goat snorts and moans a lot. Kid goats cry like human babies. A goat in distress will make a sound like an adult human in distress.

And did you guys know that the words "caprice" and/or "capricious" are alleged to derive from a Greek word which describes the fantastic turn and jump which kid goats typically make?

I hope you took notes, as this will be on the final.

Anonymous said...

It is already a state jail felony to steal one sheep, swine or goat. It is also a state jail felony to steal less than 10 head of cattle, horses, exotic wildlife or fowl.

SB 1163 and HB 1865 would make it a third degree felony to steal more than 10 head of sheep, swine or goats and any amount of cattle, horses, exotic wildlife or fowl.

Until 1993, when the state jail felony was created by the Texas Legislature, it was a third degree felony to steal livestock. Since that law was changed, livestock theft has increased in the state of Texas.

Texas is the number one cattle producing state in the nation, yet our livestock theft laws are leaner than the states of Oklahoma, New Mexico and Louisiana. Cattle, in particular, contribute billions to the Texas economy each year. We should protect our commodities. This bill is a good bill and I hope it passes.

doran williams said...

Well, Anon 2:52, maybe Anon 3:49 has suggested an effective way to make a living "raising" livestock: Steal them and sell them.

But, I'm not ready to accept Anon 3:49's conclusion that changing the penalty from a state jail felony to a straight felony (1st, 2nd or 3rd degree?) will reduce the incidence of livestock theft. If there are organized theft rings operating which are responsible for most of the theft, then the increase in penalty might work. But if most of the stealing is done by opportunists who see the chance to get a free calf for the freezer, then it probably will not.

Do you know, Anon 3:49?

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:49 here. I am a rancher and grew up in a law enforcement family. I do know that most livestock is stolen for the cash. One law enforcement agent I spoke with said in his 15 years of investigating theft, only one of those livestock theft cases were because of need. A very high percentage of livestock thieves are repeat offenders and because they strategically steal less than 10 head at a time, they are hard to put away.

Also, it is important to note that increasing the penalty doesn't mean that every thief will get the maximum penalty. Depending on the circumstances the Judge could lower that penalty. I would hardly think that someone stealing one calf for the winter would get ten years in prison.

Anonymous said...

The goat, the cow, the pig, belongs to someone and no one has the right to take it.
I personally was affected by thieves and cults stealing our cattle and if they did not steal them they tied their tales to trees and left them for dead.
Now, silly to those who don't give a rats butt about animals or those who raise them for income, but not silly to the farmer whom has purchased the feed, pasture, trailers and all to care for animals for some idiot to take them . I say put them in jail for a long time. If not the next T-bone you eat, just might come from another state or country.
We had to sell out to save our investment and we lost hundreds of dollars due to the thief. Its not silly law, its a good one if your on the receving end of a thief or kid. To have sex with any animal is cruel to that animal.
You can't catch one that has eaten or just killed the animal. Those want go thru sale barns.
What if that goat was your childs ag project and cost him the chance to show his animal. City slickers don't mess with Farmers and there livestock and say its just a damn goat, cow or pig. It might be your dinner for next week they stole.

Anonymous said...

Keep in mind that a synonym for "goat rope" is "cluster f**k". Add the "law of parties" and then you really have it.

Anonymous said...

Livestock theft is a way a good many people out there are making a living or at least supplementing. You city dwellers are way out of touch. The cattle market goes up and down like other markets. Don't be silly and think that people are going to start giving away livestock on the side of the road. If you needed a quick 300 or 400 or more, you could sell a cow. Do you know how many people do this? There are not just a few organized groups out there stealing livestock. Most often it's your help doing the stealing. How tempting it is for the 19 yr. old cowboy you have working for you to report several head missing or dead to you, then head off to the sale with them. My father ran about 500.000 + head of cattle each yr. His foreman stole thousand of head from him over a period of time. When I leased my land to a cattlman from Amarillo the hands he hired nearly shut him down. It's to hard to find employees you can trust these days and you can't be everywhere all of the time. This way of life is very foreign to many of you. The office is outside in the country and it's open 24/7.
Should petty theft be a felony? Of course not. However, when thousands of doallars worth of livestock are stolen, a felony charge is certainly appropriate.

Anonymous said...

Eh, 5:08? I giss i caint undestand. A goat rope is a c.f., Hmmmm. It's is painful to the posterior and the pocketbook when thieves, and sick individuals steal and or kill your livelihood. We are not giving away our animals out here, believe me. My 5 horses alone are each worth about three thousand. Yeah, yeah, I know you city dwellers think this is funny and that all of us here raising animals are a bunch of ignorant country bumpkins. Whatever, remember each of those animals are money and that is how we make our living. Think about that next time you go to your favorite steakhouse or grab a hamburger. I guess sometimes when you move to a city your world gets very small. I am thankful that I got the best of both worlds. I'm comfortable in the shoot working cows all day and I equally comfortable dressing up and going to the Petroleum Club and the ballet. Our parents even taught usins to use silverware and to refrain from pickin our teeth in public! Them cows put food on our table, putted us all thru collige and flewed ussins to youurup an we done take kinly to fokes trine to steel um!

doran williams said...

Anon 5:35.

I'm genuinely curious, not putting you on: Which county in Far West of Far South Texas did your daddy own a huge part of? Jim Wells? Presidio? Brewster?

I am so glad to see some ranchers and country people participating in this thread. I grew up in San Antonio, but moved to the country just as soon as I could. Think it must be my genetic makeup.

Both you and the other Rural Anons have it damn right: Urban dwellers don't know what end is up when it comes to producing food for them to buy. People who will eat a steak so rare the blood is still dripping out wouldn't think of having anything to do with raising or slaughtering the steer it came from. Some of them might not even make the connection. Many of them would up-chuck at the sight of "processing" that meat.

Anon 6:15, you need to practice your writing to get the country accent a bit better done. You done spent too damn much time at the ballet and not enough hangin out with Jim Bob and Harold Dean and Frank Jr.

Buy a few of Elmore Leonard's novels and see how he handles dialog that truly sounds like someone talkin.

I understand how both of you might want to see organized cattle thieves put away for long stretches, but I'm still dubious about the cause and effect of making such thefts state jail felonies and thereby leading to increased theivery. As I recall, from my law practice, state jail felonies were created as a way of taking the burden off the state to incarcerate the bad guys. The Texas Lege, damn them all, pushed that responsibility and cost down onto the local county governments and local tax payers.

I never got the chance to make this argument to a jury, but I longed, longed I tell you, to point out to a jury that if they convicted my client of a state jail felony they, not the State of Texas, would be bearing the cost of keeping him in the County Jail.

Mark#1 said...

The question here is not whether livestock are valuable, or whether livestock is occasionally stolen or not. The question here is whether enhancing the "under 10" level of theft from the current state jail felony to a third degree felony will serve as a deterrent. I'm not sure this question has much to do with the particularity of livestock theft versus usual theft. I don't believe that enhancing theft penalties in the hope of "sending a message" has ever been successful (if success is measured by a reduction in theft, rather than tuff on crime PR).

Anonymous said...

If someone cuts my lock and takes my 32 ft trailor loaded with my cattle, I'm out thousands of dollars. That's my business, my only source of income and there are many others like me. Of course theft involving the loss of thousands of dollars should be a felony. Now, my 35.00 goat is still my property and it's not ok to take my property no matter what it is or what other people think of it! There should still be consequences. Of course it's common sense that a monetary loss of 35.00 is in a different category than a 35,000.00 loss due to theft. I don't know what to think about the inane comments about falling market prices and free horses and cows. The issue is about taking other people's property without their consent. Are you trying to say that when at item loses market value it's ok to take it because it probably would have been given away anyhow? Arrhhggg! If you sell electronics is it ok for me to steal your nanopods because the economy is bad? Would you just give all of your mp3s away because sales were reallly slow? If I stole a nanopod and another person stole 20 40 inch plasma flat screen t.v's would you think our punishment would be the same? Of ourse not, but you would still want me to get consequences. This is common sense stuff, it's just funny to all of you because you have haughty superior tudes toward all things rural or country.

dirty harry said...

My God. Is this what happens to your moral compass when you move to the city? A $35 dollar goat, eh? Heck, he can buy another one tomorrow. And, on the way back home with the new goat, he can go by the vet and get him wormed, all the up to date innoculations, get him dipped, and go buy a load of feed. Yeah, $35 you say. Those city dwellers seem to have that same attitude toward anything raised on a farm. I was once paid only $15 per tree for damages to a stand of plantation pines I was raising. It didn't matter that it took me 20 years to raise them to maturity, on top of what I paid for spraying and fertilizing over that time, or that they would have brought over $175 per tree at the lumber yard. No, the only thing that mattered was replacement costs at the time, and it cost less than $5 per tree average to replant them.

Just what do they put in that city water, anyway?

Anonymous said...

I knew the daddy comment would get a response. Ma Dadde owned about 7 or 8 thousand acres about 45 miles from waco along the Brazos River. He leased a lot of land all over Texas. He partnered with and my brother other cattlmen in Amarillo, far west Texas. the valley, and Arizona. He and another cattleman owned a couple of feedlots in the panhandle and in far west Texas. We did not own huge amounts of property in West Tx. He and my brother worked hard and were good businessmen and cattlemen. That was in the 60's and early 70's. My grandfather was a farmer who came to Tx in the 1870's with nothing. He worked hard and was successful until he had a massive sroke at age 55. My father had to take over when he was only 18. He was not a good farmer, so he went into the cattle business and added to what my grandfather had done. My father had a massive stroke when he was 65 that left him paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair until his death, 7 years later. My brother ran the business afer my father's stroke until he was killed in a car accident, four years later. Of course, this has absolutely nothing to do with the real issue, which is crime and punishment. I certainly am not a big fan of of the leg or governemnt in general. We have way too many stupid laws. I think fines and punishment should be based on the magnitude of the crime. It's not ok to steal. I don't care whether thieves get the message or not. That's a decision they have to make. I'm telling you people usually get away with more than what they are caught. I told the story about my father because it was true. many of you just have no idea how often people steal, especailly in this business. There are too many opportunities. Hands steal gas, diesel, beer, cigs, tires, livestock, tack, tools, equipment, guns and whatever else. I'm not jaded or cynical, I just know how it is.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, it's a mixture of ethnic, british, dull normal bumpkin, upper class southern texas trash, private school, street smart uppwardly moble white humble girl dialect.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, my little sheltered urbanites, no harm intended. Cities are so big and anonymous. It's easy to get isolated and lose touch with the rest of the world living in those gated communities. They just aren't healthy. We don't do well in cages.
This issue is about the animals and so much more. It's about money, values, making a living and a way of life that is very foreign to many of you. We are not so institutionalized our here. We have alot of freedom which is wonderful but at the same time invites trouble. People are just not has honorable as they once were and all the freedom creates many opportunities to rob, cheat and steal.

Anonymous said...

I hear that hanging keeps the livestock theft recidivism rate way down. As for other penalty ranges, it all depends on whose ox is getting gored, doesn't it?

dirty harry said...

Anonymous 4/30/2009 12:52:00 AM said...
"I hear that hanging keeps the livestock theft recidivism rate way down. As for other penalty ranges, it all depends on whose ox is getting gored, doesn't it?"

From what my gradndparents told me, it definitely kept the incidence of livestock theft down.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Wow, some interesting (and defensive) comments on this string.

First, this isn't an anti-rural stance. I grew up raising horses out in East Texas (my father still does so) and I understand how country folk view livestock, which is why I think it's absurd to make it a felony to steal a $35 goat. A $2,000 horse, that's a different matter.

Second, no one is defending theft. I'm just saying the punishment should fit the crime, and shoplifting a candy bar at the store shouldn't get the same penalty as stealing a Mercedes off the lot - this post expresses the same idea.

As for hanging keeping recidivism down, there was quite a bit of livestock theft back when hanging was the punishment for cattle rustling. It also provided an excellent incentive for thieves to murder any witnesses they ran across. I'm sure you enjoyed making the rhetorical flourish, but is that really something you want to promote to protect a $35 goat?

Finally, I oppose needless penalty enhancements in all venues, not just those proposed by the livestock industry. E.g, plenty of city folks tell me I don't "get it" because I oppose graffiti enhancements. I get it though, I just think boosting penalties won't help nearly as much as better enforcing the laws on the books, which are already plenty tuff.

Mark#1 said...

How did the comments here get so far off track from "are penalty enhancements effective at reducing theft" to "The Code of the West" and "tales of yesteryear down on the farm?" There is no particular expertise required in the item stolen to comment on penal code enhancements.

dirty harry said...

Here's the thing, Grits. I don't think there is any such thing as a $35 goat, unless he comes with free feed, and free vet care.

And, as far as severe penalties go, I'm a firm believer. I'm happy to live in a podunk backwoods county where everyone is most likely "packing" in one form or another. I can leave my truck in Walmart parking lot with the keys in the ignition and the windows rolled down, and a bed full of building supplies. When I come back, it will all be there. I haven't locked my house since I moved into it. Hell, I don't even know where my front door key is! We have a joke around here that if you lock your door, you must be expecting relatives from out of town. Yes, I believe in severe punishment. It seems to work in my part of the country. A thief better think hard in my kneck of the woods, because theft could get you shot on sight. I definitely call this a penalty enhancement. Oh sure, theft happens. But, it's rare. And, they usually get caught.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

yeah dirty, everybody knows the rural life in Texas is a pastoral wonderland and that's why those areas of the state are depopulating in droves. Puleeze.

Only five Texans went to prison in 2008 for stealing livestock. That's a de minimus number and it's absurd for all of you here to claim that increasing the prison terms of those five people would make any difference whatsoever.

I see lots of emotion in these comments (and plenty of snide defensiveness from rural folks) but no actual argument about why boosting penalties will reduce livestock theft when it only affects five crooks per year.

Cattle and horses are worth much more and it doesn't take many of them to get to a felony level just on value. But it's ridiculous to not have a misdemeanor charge available for stealing a $35 goat, and nothing said here convinces me otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Just for everyone's information. It is already a state jail felony to steal a $35 goat.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

You are right, 3:07, I was wrong, and I just corrected the text with strikeouts and added a Correction/update at the end of the post.

Anonymous said...

I have to comment on one final thing regarding the correction. The Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association already has 29 Special Rangers (not the Texas Rangers) commisisoned by DPS to investigate agriculture theft, which includes livestock theft. They assist local law enforcement agents with a number of different issues, and they are not paid for by taxpayers.

Here is the AP story,

Gritsforbreakfast said...

So if they've got that many investigators out hunting for bad guys an they're only able to bust 19 per year (most of whom get probation because they're probably petty goat theft), how will increasing penalties help?

Seriously, I'm trying to understand the reasoning. Five people went to prison last year. This bill would lengthen their sentences, nothing more. How does that solve anything?

Anonymous said...

This bill solves nothing. We seem to have an idiocy-perpetuating cycle the Texas lege. What can we do to break it?

Could some artfully-filed cases that end up in the Supreme Court make a dent?

How many of these 'felonies' would hold up as legal if they made it to the supreme court?

What we have in Texas so much of the time in the Criminal courts is pin the tail on the statute (such as the recent case where Crawford protestors were charged with blocking a roadway when they weren't in the roadway). Each one of these ridiculous laws makes it easier for bad DAs to win at pin the tail on the statute.

dirty harry said...

Gritsforbreakfast said...
"yeah dirty, everybody knows the rural life in Texas is a pastoral wonderland and that's why those areas of the state are depopulating in droves. Puleeze."

I don't know what rag youre getting your info from Grits, but the population in my county is growing in leaps and bounds. The housing shortage here is such where we only had two motels on the loop, we now have five. And, an awful lot of them are coming from Austin, Dallas, and Houston. (It must be the jobs and drop in crime rate drawing them.)

Also, I still contend there is no such thing as a $35 dollar goat any more than there is a $35 dog once all the bills are paid. It's a misrepresentation of investment by the owner to say this. Please tell me the difference in stealing a $35 goat as opposed to a $35 car.

Anonymous said...

It should be a felony to be unreasonable when you elected officials, know or should have reasonably known that your constituency would find your unreasonable behavior offensive and irrational.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Please tell me the difference in stealing a $35 goat as opposed to a $35 car."

There is no difference. If they're only worth $35, it should be a Class C theft, whether we're talking about a car or a goat.

dirty harry said...

Gritsforbreakfast said...
"There is no difference. If they're only worth $35, it should be a Class C theft, whether we're talking about a car or a goat."

The difference is that unauthorized use of a motor vehicle is a state jail felony. If they are both "worth" $35 to the original owners, then the penalty for stealing them or destroying them should be the same. Personally, I'm in favor of a state jail felony for both.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Then all I can say is keep your yap shut about having your taxes raised if you think it's worth taxpayers spending $18,000 per year to incarcerate somebody stealing something worth $35.

Anonymous said...

Your are right D. Harry, it's eco 101. That's how we determine the value of just about everything. It doesn't matter whether it's goats, cars, boats, planes, dogs, acres, yards, flower beds, horses, cows, vegetables, vineyards, orchards, etc..What about our own children our homes, our communities? We make alot of investments during the course of our lives that involve our money, our time and our emotions. What's to argue about here? The folks to be upset with are the ones who mean us harm. Those who have absolutely no respect for us or our property. I'm prejudiced against people who fit that description. I don't like to feel vulnerable, violated and insecure and that's how you feel when you are the victim of a criminal act.
If a person steals and keeps on stealing they are going to keep on getting in trouble. It is up to that individual to decide to change, some will, some won't. I think we give them plenty chances to do it. We give criminals the opportunity to change, it is up to them to make that change. I try to live in areas where people have respect for each other and their property and crime rates are low. I love visiting my aunt in Tanglewood in Houston. We walk at night and stop and talk to the neighbors and it's nice. I love to stay at my friend's in westlake hill's. We often sit out on the dock until 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. Not everyone can afford to live in those kinds of areas and those are the people I worry about. There are so many people who's neighborhoods were nice and safe, but are now high crime areas and they can't afford to move. How mny of you think about those people when you are safely tucked away in your gated community, or upscale neighborhood. It is easy to be soft on crime and criminals when you are there.

Anonymous said...

Oh Grits, you are being silly. Because a crime carries a state jail felony doesn't mean that a person is going to jail, you know that. I don't think there are too many people out the doing hard time for stealing 35.00. Anyway, we all have a right to complain about whatever we want based on what we believe. You seem to think it is the governments responsibility to reform all criminals and drug addicts and to make people become good parents. You support supporting them and providing for all of their needs. Billions of dollars are already being poured into programs even when there is no real evidence that they are effective. I'm all for giving people every opportunity to change but they still need to have consequences and they shouldn't be lax. Most people, if you look at their records, were given chance, after chance, after chance before they finally got in trouble. I am not a fan of big government and I certainly don't believe that a bunch of career politicians are qualified to do much of anything accept be career politicians. I think they have the ability to really screw things up and usually do. I believe that we already enough laws on the books to deal with criminals if we use them effectively. Treatment, therapy probation and other alternatives sometimes work and sometimes don't. Some people never learn, no matter what the penalty. That is on them and they still need to suffer the consequences of their actions. If you just keep letting people off or cutting them a break you are not doing them any favors. Individual accountability is a good thing. We all have different opinions and ideas and I think that is a good thing. I encourage everyone to continue to keep their yaps open. Freedom of speech is a wonderful right as long as we remember to respect the rights of others in the process.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

5:16 - it's as though you've never read a single thing I've written. You're railing against some stereotype you carry around in your head, not anything I've said.

Anonymous said...

I read everything you write. Maybe I'm just slow.

Anonymous said...

Well hell, We used to tie the horse thieves up and shoot them, or judges used to hand them, so why not now. Would not the castle law allow such use of force if theives were breaking into your 'domain'?

Anonymous said...

April 04, 2013
I know this is an old matter. But, it IS a VERY ongoing problem for farmers & ranchers here in Texas.
We have raised goats for more than 30 years. When we started we could leave our goats safely alone in the pastures @ night. Not any longer! Now we must lock them up @ night & that's not always a perfect "fix" for this problem.
$35.00 goats you say! LOL We raise a relatively new breed of goats in the U.S.A. These Kiko goats have a low end price of (a 3 month old kid)around $450.00 ea. & I have seen them sell for as much as +$5000.00 ea. These are NOT $35.00 goats people!
But even if they were. We CHOOSE to go this for an income. Would YOU like someone to hack into your bank account & help themselves to YOUR paycheck? Actually when a goat is stolen that is just what they are doing to me.
It's hard enough with the high price of grain & hay (not to mention the coyote & stray dog problems we must also deal with) to make this profitable anyway. Now figure in the cost of fencing, employees (IF you can even afford them) & all the other daily incidentals.
Then we still must care for our livestock if it's raining, snowing with the windchill factor of -12, or summer temps of 112. We'll be there taking care of OUR investments no matter what. Are you that committed to your job?
Can you "city boys" possibly understand what a theft like this can do to us? How about if it was your boat or what ever it is that you've worked to acheive? How then would you feel.
This isn't a threat to anyone. BUT, people had better think twice before stealing from me. I don't play around any more. Here in Texas this is a serious offense to us.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

If it's still a problem after this law passed, then clearly jacking up the penalties didn't solve the problem, did it?

There's nothing special about a goat that means it should be exempt from the monetary theft categories. Get over yourself. You're just not that special that your misdemeanor level loss is more important than thefts from "city boys."

Anonymous said...

My son raises goats. He recently had one stolen. If you people would raise you kids with morals and respect maybe you wouldn't' be crying about a felony rap. Would you rather find them in a pasture with a rope around their neck. Teach them to stay the Hell off other peoples property and you will not have to worry. If your family is starving let me try to help you. Or better yet go get a job and buy your own goat. Then you don't have to worry. My self I say we as citizens have the right to protect our property. So if your son gets shot so be it. I am sorry you did not teach him right from wrong.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Please notice, 8:37, the irony that increasing the penalty did NOT deter the thief from stealing your son's goat. I get that you're angry. But that doesn't mean the law's rational and it might mean that you aren't being rational, either. Your comment seems emotional but ill-informed: I doubt you know the difference between felonies and misdemeanors or for that matter anything about this debate except the goat end of it.