Children to face jail for carrying a spray can?

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An interesting article was posted on the ABC news website a few hours ago here, regarding the new measures  the NSW Government are putting in place in part of a graffiti crackdown. Children could be imprisoned for up to six months if they are caught carrying cans of spray paint without a legitimate reason. Elva Darnell wrote the following story:

Children in New South Wales could be imprisoned for up to six months if they are caught carrying cans of spray paint without a legitimate reason.
The new measures are part of a crackdown on graffiti.
The State Government will make it an offence for juveniles to carry spray paint without an excuse, such as school work or employment.
The act will be punishable by fines of up to $1,100 or six months in jail.
It is the first time the courts will have the power to imprison minors for the act of possessing spray cans alone.
Premier Nathan Rees is also planning to announce an annual graffiti clean-up day, where community members will volunteer their time to help chemically remove paint.
The idea is loosely based on the popular clean-up Australia day.
Graffiti artist James McCallum says the Government is taking an uninformed approach that might have a lot of unintended consequences.
“Especially when you’re talking about getting tough on in this case, kids who are disenfranchised, who are actually in doing graffiti, engaging with their community,” he said.
“That’s kind of the ironic thing as well. The simple response of saying that we’ll throw them in prison or charge them $1,100 is not exactly worthy of the State Government.”

Now we can all remember a similar story to this earlier in year involving an 18-year-old Australian woman, who was sentenced to three months jail for vandalising a Sydney cafe. Her tag – 30 centimetres high, 50 centimetres long and reading “2shie” – was sprawled on the Hyde Park Cafe on Macquarie Street. It was her first offence.

On the same ABC website an article posted by Professor Chris Cuneen on February 10, 2009 about the sentencing of this 18 year woman, was titled Jail Not The Answer To Stopping Graffiti. Professor Chris Cuneen is the New South Wales Global Chair in Criminology in the Faculty of Law of the University of New South Wales. You can read that article here and we recommend that you do. It was a little long to post but raises some important counter arguments to imprisonment for such a minor offence. We will keep an eye on this issue for all who are interested.