Wednesday, June 10, 2009

A tough decision?

In a letter to Mayor R.T. Rybak, we pointed out that prosecution for graffiti crimes is rare. That fact is confirmed by the City Attorney (see p. 2) . The reason is obvious. Graffiti is a game of Hide-n-Seek. Most vandals know how to play the game, and how to remain outside the reach of the law.

With no accountability for bad behavior, graffiti multiplies. Using tax dollars to paint over the problem merely enables bad behavior. A simple solution to the problem does exist. It harnesses creative powers of parents.

To solve the graffiti problem, the Council must allow some graffiti acts to be treated not as a crime but as an offense, much like a parking ticket. Then, process those acts in an informal hearing. Kids appear in Juvenile Courts with a parent, where records are never public. Adults appear in a civil proceeding, where records are public. Either way, Restorative Justice programs are an option.

We asked the Mayor to support an open dialogue on ways to draw parents into the graffiti solution. Surely, residents should be allowed to discuss graffiti policies openly, in public testimony, and to offer lawful alternatives.

The Mayor did not respond. Previously, he called graffiti "a tough issue."

The Graffiti Task Force,
Ward 10, Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

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