Common sense needed in the state Capitol
Graffiti is a problem in West Virginia, so much so that state Sens. Evan Jenkins, D-Cabell, and Brooks McCabe, D-Kanawha, are pushing for a law that addresses the problem statewide.
Sensible people agree. This no longer is just a city problem, Jenkins told Mannix Porterfield of the Register-Herald in Beckley.
"Unfortunately, in some really rundown areas these markings and etchings make our communities look trashy," Jenkins said. "We need to clean up our act. This is an important step in giving some tools for enforcement to hopefully address a problem."
Lawmakers passed a bill last year that included making third-offense graffiti a felony. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin vetoed the measure over a technical flaw in the bill title.
However, making graffiti a felony was overkill. Sending people to prison for spray-painting a building also is an empty threat in a state that is grappling with prison overcrowding.
This time, the bill would make even a repeat offense a misdemeanor, although the perpetrator still could spend up to a year in jail. It seems like a problem that should be handled with fines and community service.
However, defacement of public or private property is a serious issue that results in real costs to individuals or taxpayers. Penalties are needed.