In Defense of Animals and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals both sent letters this month demanding a stop to the Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo.
For 64 years the prison rodeo has featured inmates at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary competing in the world’s only prison rodeo.
In a letter to Pittsburgh County Court Clerk Linda Price Williams, In Defense of Animals’ Kristie Phelps wrote,
I am writing on behalf of the 80,000 members of In Defense of Animals to urge you to end the Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo. We support measures by inmate Michael C. Washington to stop the Oklahoma State Prison Rodeo, but for different reasons altogether. Certainly no one would disagree that violent criminals should be prohibited from inflicting any sort of suffering. However by having inmates take part in a rodeo, the State of Oklahoma is encouraging it. The event gives inmates-40 percent of whom are imprisoned for violent crimes-the right to torment and abuse frightened animals in front of a cheering audience.
Experts, including Federal Bureau of Investigation profiler Robert K. Ressler, have proved that a high percentage of violent criminals have records of abusing animals. It is reckless to foster this violence, especially since many inmates will one day be released back into society.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ Christy Griffin told the McAlester News Capital & Democrat that rather than using animals the Department of Corrections should create a weightlifting or basketball competition.
Despite the protests, the rodeo went on as scheduled over the Labor Day weekend.
Animal rights groups pounce on OSP rodeo. Doug Russell, McAlester News Capital & Democrat, August 28, 2004.
Prison rodeo protested. Carrie Coppernoll, The Oklahoman, September 5, 2004.
IDA Supports Inmate’s Request for Cancellation of Prison Rodeo. Press Release, In Defense of Animals, August 26, 2004.