Senate Bill 6460, or the “Keep Our Communities Graffiti-Free Act,” was the subject of a public hearing in the Law & Justice Committee Tuesday afternoon.The bill would impose a 30-day sentence on those convicted of spraying graffiti, a crime that is categorized as malicious mischief in the third degree.
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The bill would also impose a restitution sentence consecutively to any other restitution ordered by the court, which would essentially require the offender to clean the graffiti off or perform other community service.
“One of the concerns is that graffiti is a sign of social decay,” said Sen. Phil Fortunato (R-31st District), who sponsored the bill. “A year ago, if you drove through Seattle and you came off near 5th Avenue near the pillars that held up I-5, you passed one or two pillars that had graffiti on them. Now you can’t find a pillar that doesn’t have graffiti on it.”
Fortunato also claimed he saw graffiti on the back of hard-to-reach Department of Transportation signs, and said that by imposing a sentence that would require violators to scrub off graffiti, the number of tagged signs, pillars, and other structures will go down.
“Telling them they have to scrub this stuff off for 30 days, I’m hoping, will be a deterrent,” Fortunato said. “We want to send a message that we will not tolerate this in our neighborhoods.”
According to the text of the bill, the only cases in which a 30-day restitution sentence may not be ordered is if the court finds such a sentence is not practical.
The bill is one of several bills introduced by Republican leadership this legislative session meant to address the root causes of homelessness, as well as any perceived problems caused by homeless populations in communities across the state.