Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Report bolsters graffiti reform legislation

The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition has published a new report by my pal Jorge Renaud on graffiti law and policy. See their press release and the report (pdf) itself. The release is timed to coincide with the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee hearing HB 3494 by Rep. Joe Moody this afternoon (previewed here) which, according to TCJC would:
implement a permissive pretrial diversion program with graffiti cleanup mandates and better address low-level graffiti offenses. 

  • H.B. 3494 will allow a pretrial diversion program, requiring community service and victim restitution, for long-term reductions in recidivism and its associated costs.  Participation in a deferred prosecution program, as based on the consent of the district attorney, will require community service, including graffiti removal where possible, and may involve participation in outreach education focused on graffiti prevention and eradication, youth mentoring in art programs, mural painting, or other available community service opportunities. Furthermore, successful completion of the program may result in dismissal of the charges.  This will give a fair chance to individuals who have taken responsibility for their actions, helping them avoid the reentry barriers typically associated with a criminal record.
  • H.B. 3494 creates a new, minor offense level (a Class C misdemeanor) for graffiti that causes up to $200 worth of damage.  Currently, all graffiti up to $500 worth of damage is a Class B misdemeanor, which brings with it potential county jail time.
  • H.B. 3494 adjusts value amounts for certain graffiti offenses.  Current offense thresholds for graffiti offenses were set in 1993 and do not reflect two decades of inflation.  Consequently, the penalty grades for graffiti do not appropriately correspond to the value of the property that has been damaged.  So what amounted to a Class C misdemeanor 20 years ago may constitute a Class B misdemeanor today – a de facto “criminal inflation.”  Amending the threshold offense amounts for graffiti will save taxpayer dollars otherwise needlessly spent on incarceration costs for increasingly low-level offenses.

“H.B. 3494 will ease the financial burden on property owners, seek to involve community members in cleanup and beautification, and result in positive behavioral change in graffitists, instead of merely seeking harsher penalties that criminalize and punish,” said Dr. Ana Yáñez-Correa, TCJC’s Executive Director.
See prior, related Grits posts:


Miranda said...

Any mention in this bill to reduce graffiti offenses that occur in schools? The facts that scribbling on a desk is a felony is ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

Here you are blathering about graffiti again.

Anonymous said...

They tagged a U.S. Mailbox near where I live. Must be because they closed some art classes.