Nathan Bauder: Erase graffiti bill

Regarding the May 27 news article “Law would make graffiti a felony”: I was surprised to read how many senators favor increasing the number of felons in North Carolina.

Despite an over-criminalized justice system that comes down hardest on low-income minorities, despite a prison system crowded with nonviolent offenders and despite the knowledge that, statistically, one felony often leads to another, this bill received bipartisan support from senators across North Carolina and even passed unanimously in the House.

Graffiti is unsightly and expensive to repair. I do not doubt it is a serious problem in many urban areas. As such, repeat offenders should face consequences of appropriate severity.

Yet putting someone with a can of spray paint or a marker in the same felonious category as someone who commits fraud, larceny or witness intimidation seems overly harsh.

Consider school property. If a bored student scribbles on some desks, a chair and a bathroom stall door suddenly he or she could be potentially charged as a felon.

Increase the fines? Certainly. Change the law so that public and private property are considered? Sure. Require community service to repair the damage? That sounds like a great idea.

Make the punishment fit the crime. This bill does not.

Nathan Bauder

Cary

Article source: http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article22640139.html

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