Legislation would create new Class-E felony &
require diversity education for hate-fueled graffiti
Albany, NY - State Senator Jeff Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester) announced that his comprehensive bill to clean up graffiti passed the State Senate today.
The legislation (S.849) would take a multi-faceted approach to tackling vandalism by enhancing penalties through the creation of a new, heightened crime — making graffiti in the first degree. The crime would address graffiti that promotes gang activity or is placed on religious property, making it a Class-E felony.
“Graffiti creates blight, damages property, and causes financial hardship for business owners and the community. My legislation will provide relief to graffiti victims, while giving these vandals an up-close look at the damages that they caused. By allowing judges to order vandals to clean up their own mess, allowing for diversity education to counteract hate-fueled graffiti, and creating a new Class-E felony for graffiti that encourages gang activity or targets religious property, this multi-faceted approach combats every aspect of this ever-rising crime,” said Senator Klein.
The bill would also hold vandals directly accountable to their victims, and require diversity education for hate-fueled graffiti. In order to ensure that vandals fully comprehend the severity of their crime, this legislation would allow a judge to sentence a vandal to clean and repair the property they damaged. Additionally, the bill allow a judge to require a vandal to complete a diversity training program for graffiti that is used as a tool of harassment based on race, religion, gender or other related factors.
The bill passed the Senate by an overwhelming majority, and has been sent to the Assembly where it is carried by Assemblyman Michael Benedetto.