One photo from a set Las Vegas police sent to Nevada Legislature to support AB 244.
The debate on how graffiti should be defined gives Nevada lawmakers the chance to clean up semantics. With the graffiti growing into a recognized aesthetic, the term “graffiti” can be replaced with the word “tagging” when referring to the application of aerosol on unauthorized space.
It would be an amendment that clarifies intent.
That's a thought with the news that Republican Assemblyman Lynn Stewart and police lobbyists presented bill AB244 to the Senate Judiciary Committee to make "multiple graffiti convictions" be a felony-level offense. AP reports:
The bill would require anyone with two or more convictions for graffiti offenses, including at least one that's a felony, to be automatically charged with a Class C felony. The charge carries a penalty of one to five years in prison.
Opponents to the bill included Steve Yeager, Clark County Deputy Public Defender, who stated current law sufficiently punishes graffiti offenders. "I don't think it's good for this committee to be making policy based on a few individuals," he said. Detective Black is leading the bill on behalf of Las Vegas police and believes the cost to incarcerate a repeat offender would be less than the cost of constant repairing graffiti damage, said the report.
AB244 has been a hot topic and voting splits down party lines. It first sought to provide “an enhanced penalty for committing three or more offenses of placing graffiti on or otherwise defacing certain property," another version of a Three Strikes law. On March 9, 2015, "three or more" was amended to read "certain repeat" offenses, and now targets those who have been "convicted two times or more."
Above: Stephen Hendee created sculpture for the celebration of 30 years of public art programming in the City of Las Vegas.