Tagger Goes to Jail

Here’s one reason our jails are so over-crowded that we have to ship prisoners out of state and pay private companies to manage our prison system: Bryant Magnum, a 27 year old tagger was arrested in November for over $70,00 in damage from his prolific tagging efforts on Los Angeles trains, buses and passenger stations. He was just sentenced to 8 years and 4 months in jail for his efforts. He could have gotten over 30 years, but pleaded guilty to over 45 documented cases of tagging and bargained for the shorter sentance.
Now I’m not saying that he shouldn’t be punished. Tagging is a serious blight in urban areas especially in Los Angeles. It causes untold damage and expenses to property owners who are hit and to the general public for publicly owned areas. However, this guy didn’t kill, rape or commit a horrible crime. Wouldn’t it have been smarter, wiser, more visionary to just put him (and other convicted taggers) to work in some sort of community clean-up effort? He could work 8 hours a day for the next 8 years and do a lot more good than sitting in prison, especially given the cost of keeping him there. I’m willing to bet that if he spent 8 years cleaning up the tagging efforts of his peers and doing nasty clean-up jobs, he’d be rehabilitated. He might never want to tag again!
It seems so stupid to lock up someone who hasn’t commited a super serious crime.
Yeah, I know, we’d have to police him and others who had to pay their debt to society this way, but it HAS to be cheaper and better for society in the long run, than throwing him in prison. It just seems so counter-productive and short sighted.

15 thoughts on “Tagger Goes to Jail”

  1. sad and wasteful . maybe a little community service would do him good . make him teach art and janitorial science at an under priviledged school . prison time is someone else’s idea of retribution .

  2. Thats considered cruel and usual punishment. AND, you’ll find the city unions complain everytime they try to make welfare recipients or prisoners do some real community work.

    Free labor = less city union jobs. Sad but true!

  3. How dare those nasty unions complain about their jurisdiction being infringed upon by forced unpaid labor!

    Anyway, I’d be more concerned about the “blight” of tagging if much of urban Los Angeles itself weren’t such a soul crushing eyesore. Anybody who is honest with himself will admit that often, the graffiti is the most colorful and attractive thing about a wall or an overpass or a cinder block building.

  4. If only everyone in LA carried a concealed weapon, people like this would never leave home with their spray cans in the first place.

  5. what if roving bands of pre raphaelite artists painted cherubs and rubenesque maids on public and private walls . would that be to your liking ?

  6. It’s funny, the fine line between ‘art’ i.e. cool stuff painted in areas where there’s nothing else interesting…. and grafitti that is a blight. I agree Mishaco and Daniel… sometimes it’s better than what’s there already. But since there are laws that deal with this (it’s a bummer when you are a business or home and your place gets tagged and you have to pay to clean it up)why not make the punishment more solution oriented? that’s all I’m sayin’.

  7. And sometimes taggers destroy murals painted by real artists. This is cute: “He could work 8 hours a day for the next 8 years and do a lot more good than sitting in prison, especially given the cost of keeping him there.” but who’s going to make sure he does the work?

    Gang tags are precursors to “super serious” crimes.

  8. I’ve had my property tagged… it’s no fun, and it is a violation. That said, I do think the prison time is not a solution. I also have serious issues with the factthat this state has more people locked up, right this second, than the entire population of Pasadena (and South Pas added to it). 170,000 inmates. Hundreds of thousands more on parole. The system’s broken, people – but that’s not new info.

    In a thousand years, if we still exist, archaeologists may see the tagging as some sort of heiroglyphic type of religious symbolism or learned slogans. How ironic would that be…!

    That said – taggers should be served justice.

    More than once I’ve seen fresh taggings and thought… “hmmm… I wonder how that tagger would look falling from that bridge with a bullet in his back”…

    My bad!!!!

  9. Who said anything about “gang tags”? The name of the organization to which Magnum belongs–UPN, or Ur Property Next–suggests that tagging is its main purpose. That’s a pretty far cry from a violent street gang that uses graffiti as a way to mark territory, taunt enemies, and announce vendettas.

  10. I can’t believe what I am reading…. Taggers SHOULD go to jail, maybe not 8 years but screw every last one of them. Tagging is not art; it is horrific scribbling that has no redeeming value and its criminal damage to other people’s property. We should show NO mercy for those little bastards.

  11. not sure if your suggestion makes sense. So he works for 8 hours a day doing clean up work and then goes back to his cell? Why? He’s already in jail, why waste more money monitoring this guy cleaning up, let him rot. And if he doesn’t go back to his cell, where does he go? Home? what home? With what money? he’d probably turn into a bum in a few months, never show up for his punishments and end up committing a serious crime. thats dumb.

  12. Well, I guess my thought is that he works cleaning up for 8 hours a day (rather than sit in jail) then goes home to Grandma (where he already lives and tags from) or goes to a real job to earn his keep, it would be better than us paying for his jailtime. Yes, he would be out of jail, and yes, there would have to be systems in place that monitored him ‘showing up’, but at least he would be doing something that made him ‘pay’ for his crime. If he didn’t show up, then he would get a harsher penalty… perhaps jail or something more punitive. Just sitting in jail seems counter-productive. I don’t think letting anyone ‘rot’ or killing them is a realistic solution if we want to evolve as a culture. Every human being makes huge mistakes…. some just don’t have the background or examples to change their lives. Prison is definitely not the solutions. Thas all I’m sayin’.

  13. prison = punishment. If we locked up a bunch of this idiots then maybe OTHER idiots wouldn’t tag..

    If there is no punishment than why would they stop? They have such crappy lives that they feel compelled to scrawl their intitials all over the place so “people” know they were there..

  14. A couple thoughts…

    1. Tagging/graffitti can be art, even when its illegal. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

    2. I still agree with the idea of fining people who don’t take actions to remove graffitti on their property after a certain period. Yes, this may appear to be punishing the victims. But it would definitely force the most effected communities to be more proactive against the taggers, and would also reduce the satisfaction taggers have of seeing their “art” up for an extended period.

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