Yes, you read that correctly…

Idaho is the only state in the union where cannibalism is legal. 

Just give us a minute to wrap our heads around this, while we go grab our barf bucket. 



Excuse me, WHAT?

According to the Mayhem section of the Idaho Code, cannibalism is illegal – unless it is necessary to survive.

So in a life-threatening situation, where the only apparent means of survival is to eat another human being, this is actually deemed as an acceptable legal defense. 

In any other case, cannibalism is a felony, and punishable for up to 14 years in prison. 


Gross. But like, we have some questions. 

Why do we even have this addendum added into our law? 

How many times has this argument successfully been used?!


Why does this matter?

Luckily, cannibalism isn’t a super common thing in Idaho, so we don’t really have to think about this weird law too frequently. 

The last case of cannibalism was decades ago, until… 


There actually is an active case right now in northern Idaho, where a man is being charged with first-degree murder and cannibalism. 

In fact, just a few days ago, James David Russell (the suspect pictured below) was deemed fit for trial after undergoing a mental evaluation, meaning that he won’t be able to claim insanity.

Photo by Bonner County Sheriff's Office
Photo by Bonner County Sheriff's Office

He may face up to 14 years in prison for the cannibalism charge, and either the death penalty or life in prison for the murder charge. 


However, in this particular case, the cannibalism was not done in a life-threatening situation…

So we’re still left wondering – why is this even a law in Idaho??

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