Book Review: Beyond cages: animal law and criminal punishment by Marceau Justin

Published date01 December 2023
AuthorRosina Neubert
Date01 December 2023
Subject MatterBook Reviews
Book Review
Marceau Justin, Beyond cages: animal law and criminal punishment. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2019; 298 pp. ISBN 9781108277877, $38.99
Reviewed by: Rosina Neubert , University of Auckland, New Zealand
Abuse an animal - Go to jail!(p. 2) appears a clear-cut credo of the animal protection move-
ment, yet Justin Marceau urges the reader to look beyond the cage and explore the implications
of the animal protection movements fervent appetite for criminal punishment. In Beyond
Cages: Animal Law and Criminal Punishment, Marceau beckons the reader into an uncomfort-
able state of realisation that the same movement sincerely rooted in harm reduction also
embraces draconian criminal justice reforms. Marceaus work offers a profound critique of
the carceral strategies advocated for by the animal protection movement in pursuit of bettering
the status and lives of animals in the American context.
The tough-on-crime mentality adopted by the movement campaigns for the incarceration of
animal abusers, consequently drifting further from kindred social justice movements. Beyond
Cages is not a call for the abandonment of the justice system nor a plea for sweeping decrim-
inalisation. Rather, Marceaus objective is to encourage the use of resources and research
to minimise the suffering of animals without exercising prosecution (p. 277). For Marceau,
disentangling the animal protection movement from carceral favouritism signies a shift
towards solutions that embody resistance to social oppression as a whole.
Marceau crafts Beyond Cages through a bold analysis of the animal protection movements
punitive priority, fashioning the work into a thoughtful and readable evaluation. Marceau
insightfully draws upon a voluminous knowledge of criminal law, civil rights, and animal pro-
tection. He amasses an extensive collection of evidence referenced in footnotes exhibiting both
his resources and supplemental information. The array of data varying from the historical
origins of the movements carceral strategy to accounts of infamous cases of exposed
animal abuse validate Marceaus logic. Beyond Cages commences by setting the scene, estab-
lishing the motivations of the animal protection movements carceral impulse, then progresses
to sketching a portrait of mass criminalisation. Marceau next tackles the complexity of the
animal law system, then moves to the critiques and fallout of the punitive approach being
racial discrimination, increased incarceration, and overdependence on link theory. Finally,
Marceau forecasts the primary critiques of Beyond Cages.
Marceau seeks to understand the animal protection movements pro-criminal punishment
philosophy, locating a theoretical basis of deterrence at the heart of the movements workings.
Journal of Criminology
2023, Vol. 56(4) 497500
© The Author(s) 2023
Article reuse guidelines:
DOI: 10.1177/26338076231179005

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