Thursday, April 23, 2009

Graffiti as organized crime?

On the House floor today, Rep. Joe Moody had a perfectly reasonable bill that added people conspiring in prison and jail escapes under the organized crime statute. But the freshman Democrat accepted a "friendly" amendment from Rep. Dwayne Bohac to define graffiti offenses, of all things, as "organized crime" if committed by three or more people in combination.

Bohac said he wants to target criminal street gangs, but as written the amendment would allow prosecution of any three high-school kids who spray paint an underpass as "organized crime," enhancing Class A misdemeanor graffiti offenses to a third degree felony.

Overkill, much?

If your teenager was caught with two friends writing their names on a wall, would you think it's justified to prosecute them under the same laws created to go after the mafia?

What are these people thinking? Are they thinking at all?

25 comments:

Steve said...

It is not at all clear why the original bill as will as the organized crime statute are any less silly than the graffiti add on.

The only legitmate offenses are the actions: the theft, the fraud, the assualt, etc.

The conspiracy stuff, the RICO stuff, money laundering, etc., are little more than little people playing king in an attempt to make the rest of us believe they are doing something useful.

The only legitimate punishment for graffiti writing is having to clean it up + any damages to the writing surface + costs of capture and courts.

Anonymous said...

You are so right about overkill here.

Kind like using a hydrogen bomb to kill a mosquito.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Steve wrote: "It is not at all clear why the original bill as will as the organized crime statute are any less silly than the graffiti add on."

I'd agree with you the organized crime statute is written far too broadly. It just struck me that planning a prison break is the kind of thing that might ACTUALLY be perpetrated by real organized crime, while including graffiti broadens it to a much broader class of much less dangerous people.

Anonymous said...

OK, so when will breathing become an organized crime?

Anonymous said...

And the House in DC is getting 50,000 more police officers to catch these dangerous vandals. And you the taxpayer will pay for these positions at the end of the grant.

More spending madness!

House approves money to help police departments hire, retain officers

11:19 PM CDT on Thursday, April 23, 2009
The Associated Press

http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/dn/latestnews/stories/042409dnnatpolice.3b9fe84.html

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"when will breathing become an organized crime?"

Only if you're breathing in "combination" with 2 or more other people. I guess like maybe in yoga class. ;)

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think legislating is organized crime. Except for the "organized" part.

BB

Anonymous said...

The Bexar County DA has long used the organized crime statute to prosecute shoplifting teens, if they work together in groups.

Anonymous said...

Thiefs should be prosecuted for organized crime if they steal in groups!

I have no problem enhancing graffiti by way of organized crime if it specifically involved gang related graffiti. Our community is being marked up because of two rival gang currently feuding.

Although, I am sure many of you think a few hours in an Art Appreciation class would curtail the problem...

Gritsforbreakfast said...

If this amdt was aimed at gang graffiti it might be less offensive, but it's much more sweeping than that.

Similarly, three teen girls shoplifting at the mall shouldn't be prosecuted under organized crime statutes. There needs to be some common sense applied to these situations.

Anonymous said...

Depends, if the three girls are working together in efforts to steal mdse, they should be prosecuted for organized crime.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

Says you. IMO that's a misuse of the statute.

Anonymous said...

Nevertheless, if the girls do not steal, they have nothing to worry about....

Gritsforbreakfast said...

You could make the same argument for penalizing shoplifting with capital punishment, and it would be just as absurd.

There's no public policy justification for what you're calling for and certainly no benefit to public safety. It's just mean-spirited foolishness.

Anonymous said...

Penalizing shoplifting with Capital Punishment is not the same argument as labeling it organized crime. If several individuals get together, plan a crime, and then work side by side in the commission of that crime, that is organized crime and the penalty should be enhanced!

I don't get the opposition to that argument, particularly regarding theft.

Anonymous said...

Why not just spend the money earmarked for enforcing grafitti laws on cleaning up the grafitti instead? Probably much cheaper in the long run, and it would solve the problem

Anonymous said...

Scott, you are so right when you say
"mean-spirited foolishness"

There's a lot of Texas criminal law that fits that description.

Of course, it becomes a tragedy in application, but these fools can't be bothered to consider the human consequences.

Gritsforbreakfast said...

"Penalizing shoplifting with Capital Punishment is not the same argument as labeling it organized crime."

8:59, you're simply wrong, not to mention wrong-headed. The rationale is identical to the foolishness you've put forth here - if they're not stealing, they have nothing to worry about, right? So who cares how harsh the punishment is? That's your argument, not mine, I'm just pointing out why it doesn't work under the circumstances.

The common theme here is overpunishment of minor offenses beyond any legitimate public safety-based purpose. "Organized crime" statutes were passed (and expanded) by legislators pointing to the mob and violent criminal street gangs. To use those statutes to prosecute teen girls shoplifting at the mall is the height of irresponsibility and evidence IMO that the statute is WAAAAY too broadly written.

Anonymous said...

This is typical legislation from an IDIOT who has no idea how it will affect this state or it's people. Texas is law and order crazy and it is a monumental joke!

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with the legislation but if you're not from texas don't make generalized comments about my state. We'll do as we please and I know writers facing RICO charges in CA, CO, TX is not the only state thinking this way.

Anonymous said...

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada "Same" was arrested and charged for organized crime.

E said...

fuck that charge me with organized crime and ill show you organized crime and rise against the government thats bullshit they have to right to put us in jail under a charge like that

Anonymous said...

i dont think the word overkill does justice here

if writers had the same intentions as real organized crime groups we'd be a real threat
its not like we're going into a neighborhood, painting the walls, and then proceeding to break into the buildings and taking peoples properties, we're not going to go paint walls and then kill the people who own said wall, and we're not going to go somewhere to paint walls and then proceed to set up a drugselling operation.
we go there, paint our pieces, and leave. as quickly and quietly as possible, as to not disrupt you the public. we dont want you to see us, we dont want you to notice us doing our work, we'd much rather be in the shadows until the daybreak when someone drives by and is all "DAMN"
thats the thing that people dont realize about writers, we're not all dangerous people, sure some of us are, but if you take away our ability to paint, it destabalizes a central part of our lives, and thats wherein the real danger lies.

bottom line. public space is public space, when was the last time you had any say in what you saw on the way to work?

Graffiti Task Force said...

To solve the graffiti problem, the legislature must allow SOME graffiti acts to be treated not as a crime but as a civil case, much like a parking ticket.

Equal justice for graffiti vandals is the first step.

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