Yesterday, news of a Texas judge’s decision to imprison a teenage vandal for eight years without parole caused quite a stir, with most people agreeing that the punishment was way too extreme. Judge Marisela SaldaÃ±a clearly didn’t dole out such an egregious sentence to cover the cost of cleaning up the $7,300 of damage Sebastian Perez caused, after all, his incarceration will run Texas taxpayers than $140,000. And that price tag doesnâ€™t include the considerable public expense and burden of a four-time felon lacking credible experience or job prospects, which is what Perez will be when heâ€™s scheduled for release at age 26 after spending nearly a third of his life locked up.
No, this sentence is about making an example of the 18-year-old and a bad one at that. Earlier this year, the District Attorney’s office for Corpus Christi adopted a policy offering nothing less than maximum sentences to adult vandals, hoping to make the point, “If you spray, you pay.” District Attorney Carlos Valdez claims, “there’s deterrence in the message,” but when have tougher penalties ever effectively stopped vandalism? Pretty much never. Whether itâ€™s artistic or strictly for fame, graffiti canâ€™t be eradicated, only managed. Ludicrous prison terms more effectively embolden writers with added notoriety and ensure those who are caught only get an extended criminal education. Though Judge SaldaÃ±a believes eight years will reform Perez’s life, it’s more likely to ruin it irreparably.
Whatever your views on this sentence, you should consider sharing them, not only here but also with Judge Marisela SaldaÃ±a who has surprisingly been commended for offering “understanding and compassion,” as well second chances, to offenders. She conveniently offers up her Facebook page and Twitter account in addition to other means of getting in touch:
Judge SaldaÃ±a Campaign
PO Box 968
Corpus Christi, TX 78403
Phone: (361) 549-8420
Photo via Judge Saldana