Alderman Wants To Increase Fines, Ensure Possible Jail Time For Graffiti Taggers

CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago alderman wants a new strategy to fight graffiti.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, Ald. Michael Zalewski (23rd) tells the Chicago Sun-Times that graffiti cases should be handled by judges in court, rather than by hearing officers as is now the case.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports

Transferring the cases to judges would increase the prospect that violators would go to jail rather than be issued a ticket, Zalewski tells the Sun-Times.

The alderman tells the newspaper the penalties for the spray painters, who frequently are street gang members, should be substantially increased. He is calling for increasing the fines from $750 and up to 1,500 hours of community service to $2,000 and no fewer than three days in jail, or 2,500 hours of community service.

The minimum fine for parents and legal guardians of those who produce graffiti would rise from a $250 to $500, with a maximum of $1,000, Zalewski tells the Sun-Times.

The city is currently spending less on graffiti removal, but a spokesman insists to the Sun-Times that the problem is being adequately handled.

Last week, the Chicago Police Gold Star Memorial near Soldier Field was vandalized with red spray paint. Zalewski called the act disgusting, but he said his 23rd Ward on the Southwest Side has also been hard hit in recent days, the Sun-Times reported.

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