Past efforts to eradicate graffiti vandalism have focused on the consequences of those who are causing the damage, but a state lawmaker is taking a different approach, hoping to get the victims of property damage some relief.
El Paso Representative Joe Moody is trying to implement a diversion program for so-called graffiti artists. Among the provisions are mandatory community service, including graffiti removal, participation in outreach education focused on graffiti prevention, and youth mentoring in art programs.
"The property owner ends up having to paint over the tag or the vandalism, and the property owner just wants their property restored," Ana Yáñez-Correa, with the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, said. "They don't want to throw away the life of a kid. Who, by the way, is going to end up coming out worse when they go to state jail, given the fact that there's no programming, and then they're just going to have the collateral consequences for the rest of their life."
The bill creates a Class C misdemeanor charge for graffiti that causes damage up to $200. Currently, graffiti damage up to $500 is a Class B misdemeanor, which is punished by county jail time.