I know that graffiti - or more accurately, tagging - is a pain.

It's visual pollution and costs ratepayers millions each year in clean-up duties.

But the 14-month prison sentence and reparation payment of $15,000 handed to a serial tagger in Hastings this week seems pretty steep.

There's no doubt that Blair Kitchen was one of the worst taggers in the city. And the judges had started taking a tough line on vandals such as him.


But wouldn't Kitchen have been put to better use cleaning up the city's properties and public places, either by removing graffiti or picking up rubbish? The cost of sending him to prison could have been used to ensure he turned up for work every day for a year on a mission to beautify a city he had polluted.

I wouldn't go as far as the mother in Townsville this week who made her 10-year-old son sit in public space with a sign hung around his neck telling the world he was a thief.

I wouldn't make Kitchen wear a fluoro-pink jumpsuit a la Sheriff Joe.

But putting a fit young man to work has got to be much better than sending him off to learn the tricks of the trade from career criminals in prison, doesn't it?