Release courtesy of the Legislative Press Bureau.
An attack by vandals on a Newport cemetery a few years ago could have resulted in about $125,000 worth of cleanup and repairs, had it not been for a group of volunteers who worked to replace headstones and restore order in the graveyard.
“Most people think that vandalism is a stupid, childish act, which it certainly is, or a petty, victimless crime, which it most certainly is not,” said Sen. Frank S. Lombardi (D-Dist. 26, Cranston). “Some vandals, whether using a can of spray paint or doing damage to a monument in a park, leave pretty costly repairs in their wake.”
“I think it’s time to stop thinking of vandalism as a minor crime. Someone doing an excessive amount of damage to another person’s property should be punished in a manner that is equal to the harm they’ve done,” he said.
Currently, vandalism is considered a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and/or a year in prison, along with restitution for the damage done.
Senator Lombardi has introduced legislation, 2013-S 0699, that would up the ante for vandals doing significant amounts of damage. The legislation would make it a felony for property damage exceeding $1,500, resulting in a fine of up to $3,000 and/or three years in prison, along with liability for restitution.
“I don’t know what prompts individuals to do these kinds of harmful acts, but I do believe the punishment should fit the nature of their actions, and the more damage that is done, the more severe the punishment they should receive,” he said.
“Perhaps it will make them think twice before knocking over headstones in a cemetery or marring someone’s home or business with spray paint. I am confident that being charged with a felony and facing serious prison time or fines will make them think twice before doing it ever again.”
The legislation has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary. It is co-sponsored by Sen. Stephen R. Archambault (D-Dist. 22, Smithfield, Johnston, North Providence), Sen. Walter S. Felag Jr. (D-Dist. 10, Warren, Bristol, Tiverton), Sen. Louis P. DiPalma (D-dist. 12, Middletown, Little Compton, Newport, Tiverton) and Sen. Frank A. Ciccone III (D-Dist. 7, Providence, North Providence).
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