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Jail Time Is What Graffiti Vandals Need

September 12, 1993

* I was interested in your editorial "The Bill For Graffiti Is Past Due" (Aug. 8) and many of the suggestions contained therein.

I was the prosecutor in charge of the Perales case that was mentioned in that editorial and would like to comment on your recommendations for the punishment of vandals.

First, the idea that graffiti vandals pay restitution to identifiable victims is routine in all misdemeanors. The problem remains, however, collecting any money whatsoever. Most defendants, like Perales, are public defendant clients. This means they have little or no assets to afford an attorney or pay restitution for that matter. Therefore, a court order for these vandals to "pay the bill," while routinely given, is rarely meaningful.

Second, your piece seems to question the imposition of jail time to someone as "brazen" as Perales yet suggests he work at the police station as a groundskeeper. There is no question that jailing vandals is more expensive than imposing community service. I would disagree, however, that the expense makes the alternative more cost-effective. Most of the vandals sentenced as adults have little or no criminal record mainly due to their youth. Likewise they have never been to county jail for any length of time. Many "first-timers" to the county jail system find the experience so distasteful that writing on our walls, signs, and mailboxes does not appear quite as glamorous.

I believe that jail time for vandals like Perales as well as others that would destroy the Valley is not only appropriate but works as a deterrent to those who clearly have too much free time.

GARY G. GEUSS

Van Nuys

Geuss is a Van Nuys deputy city attorney. It's the Parents Who Are Really at Fault

* Congratulations for your editorial "Making Life Tough For Taggers" (Aug. 1). I think it is time to do something about these gangs and their activities.

It is amazing to me that these kids have not been taught by their parents that one does not deface, vandalize and ruin property. When I was a teen-ager, my parents would make me pay for anything I destroyed, and I taught the same to my daughter as she is now teaching hers.

I appreciate every step taken to stop this crime craze and have the culprits and their parents clean up what they did.

Thank you for taking the time to voice your opinion.

ANNELIESE OHLER

North Hollywood

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