On the Geometry of Speciesist Policing: The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Animal Cruelty Data


This article contests the animal cruelty statistics newly collected and publicized in the US by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In what follows, we (1) outline the inclusion of animal cruelty in the FBI’s National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS), 2016–2020; (2) analyze trends in animal cruelty cases reported in NIBRS; (3) identify key data validity, methodological and theoretical problems in NIBRS, especially with the FBI’s attempt to generate knowledge of the link between animal cruelty and interpersonal violence; and (4) juxtapose the FBI’s circumscribed concept of animal cruelty with the much more inclusive circle of compassion advanced by nonspeciesist and green criminology. We challenge illusions that the criminalization of animal cruelty is driven by a logic of benign inevitability, and ponder how the extension of compassion to a few favored species coexists with and even engenders de-civilizing countertrends, such as the immense abuse that occurs worldwide in the animal industrial complex. Therefore, we issue a call for the development of a nonspeciesist research program, both monocultural and cross-cultural, into the dynamics of the policing and surveillance of animal cruelty and animal abuse in a broad range of societies.

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Published: 2023-06-01
Pages:137 to 149
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How to Cite
Beirne, P. and Lynch, M. J. (2023) “On the Geometry of Speciesist Policing: The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Animal Cruelty Data”, International Journal for Crime, Justice and Social Democracy, 12(2), pp. 137-149. doi: 10.5204/ijcjsd.2631.

Author Biographies

University of Southern Maine
 United States

Piers Beirne is emeritus professor of sociology and legal studies at the University of Southern Maine.

University of South Florida
 United States

Michael J. Lynch is professor of criminology, and graduate director of the MA and Ph.D. programs in criminology at University of South Florida.