Friday, April 9, 2004

Making the World Safe for Bunnies

From the Sun-Sentinel:

NEW PORT RICHEY — A 9-year-old girl was arrested and handcuffed after she was accused of stealing a rabbit and $10 from a neighbor’s home, a move that some thought was too harsh.

A Pasco County sheriff’s deputy read the girl her rights and took her away in the back of his patrol car.

The girl, whose name was not released, began to cry during questioning at the police station Tuesday and admitted taking Oreo the rabbit but denied taking two $5 bills and some change, according to a Pasco County Sheriff’s Office report.

A deputy found the black-and-white rabbit hopping around in the girl’s living room, according to the arrest report.

“Somebody entered a residence without permission and stole money and a pet rabbit. That’s burglary,” sheriff’s spokesman Kevin Doll said. “I don’t know what other explanation you need. Nine years old is enough to know right from wrong.”

The mother of the child who owns the rabbit is pressing authorities to prosecute the 9-year-old.

“This little girl needs help, and she needs to be in the system to get help for a long time,” Ventura said.

A more common approach, said Pasco-Pinellas Public Defender Bob Dillinger, would be for the deputy to have taken a report and referred the charges to the state attorney.

“There’s just a lot of other things you can do with a third-grader,” he said. “There are alternatives other than a simple arrest.”

The girl was released to her mother from a juvenile assessment center about an hour after her arrest.

Oh, I know I’m going to sleep better knowing this hardened felon is off the streets.