amarisela 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 Saldaña 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 doesn’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 he’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 it’s artistic or strictly for fame, graffiti can’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 Saldaña 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 Saldaña 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:

Email: votejudgesaldana@aol.com

Mailing address:
Judge Saldaña Campaign
PO Box 968
Corpus Christi, TX 78403

Phone: (361) 549-8420

Update: Judge Saldaña is forced to reduce the 8-year sentence

Photo via Judge Saldana