Considering having victim impact statements submitted in court
The City of St. John’s wants to get more involved with graffiti cases in court.
At Tuesday’s meeting of the city’s planning and development committee, committee chairman Coun. Tom Hann suggested the city look into submitting victim impact statements when vandals are sentenced.
Grafitti adorns a wall on Water Street in 2011. — File photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram
“When that’s done, consequently, there may be a possibility that the city would be reimbursed, or the person in court on a graffiti charge would have to reimburse the city for the cost of cleaning it up,” said Hann.
“Victim impact statements have not been done in all cases, but the question is should we be asking that victim impact statements be submitted in all cases where people are damaging city property?”
Hann noted the city has a budget of about $25,000 to clean up graffiti, and Dave Blackmore, deputy city manager of planning, said the city generally orders private property owners to clean up graffiti on their property. If it’s not cleaned up, the city will do it and bill the property owner, said Blackmore.
“The purpose of that is certainly not to bring any undue hardship on the owner,” said Blackmore.
“But graffiti is one of those things, if it’s left unattended, it tends to grow, so the quicker you get in to remove it, cover it up, it’s gone.
“So people lose their cachet around having their symbol on a building. We do enforce that.”
The committee also discussed other options to reduce graffiti, including providing more approved public spaces for graffiti artists to paint. Blackmore said those help, but only go so far.
“You are dealing with people who aren’t abiding by the law, and the thrill of getting your tag out there in a place more obscure and harder to get to. …
“The guy who’s using a big black marker to write on the doors of city hall is not going to paint a wall. He’s going to put his tag wherever he can get.”
The city plans to investigate further the possibility of providing victim impact statements, and the committee has forwarded the matter to the city’s legal department.