Animal welfare activists often wish that people who engage in barbaric acts of animal cruelty would be punished in a way that fits the crime, including mandatory prison terms for the worst offenses.
CBS News reports that Bud Wally Ruiz of Gilroy, California, is facing a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison for an act of animal cruelty.
During an argument with his wife on Thursday, Ruiz picked up her 6-week-old Chihuahua puppy and slammed it into a wall, killing it. Ruiz has been charged with two counts of felony animal cruelty.
Life in Prison for Killing a Dog?
The reason Ruiz faces a potential term of life in prison for killing the dog has less to do with California’s animal cruelty laws than it does with the state’s “three-strikes” sentencing law. By referendum, in 1994, California’s voters overwhelmingly approved a recidivist sentencing law in which an offender with two prior felony convictions could face 25 years up to life in prison for a third felony conviction.
In a pair of decisions in 2003, the United States Supreme Court upheld California’s “three-strikes” law, ruling that the law does not violate the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.
According to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, Ruiz has four prior convictions for assault with a deadly weapon.
- California Penal Code § 667
- Ewing v. California, 538 U.S. 11 (2003).
- Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63 (2003).
- “Calif. man could get life in prison for allegedly killing Chihuahua,” www.cbsnews.com May 20, 2011