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Mickael Broth on graffiti and incarceration

Local artist served ten months in prison after being convicted of vandalizing and destruction of property back in 2004. He recently released Gated Community, the first of three limited edition books discussing his graffiti and incarceration.

From a long interview in RVA News, here is Broth’s take on punishment for graffiti artists:

HAS YOUR ATTITUDE ABOUT HOW GRAFFITI ARTISTS ARE PUNISHED CHANGED SINCE YOU WERE JAILED?

I obviously never felt that jail was an appropriate punishment for graffiti. But I also won’t claim to have a perfect solution or response. Incarceration at the cost of taxpayers is just nonsensical. Put nonviolent offenders to work on community service projects–and not some bullshit task like stacking books at the library. I think the main thing that needs to be addressed is getting people to understand how their actions have an impact on their community. Feeling like you are an important part of your community is essential to preventing people from painting graffiti, slinging drugs, or getting drunk and peeing on somebody’s front porch.

I know it might seem illogical or logistically difficult, but people should feel compelled to attend neighborhood association and planning meetings in order to gain a better understanding of how their actions affect those around them. And naturally, for graffiti, you should be paying restitution.

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