Westminster, CO -- In Westminster, Colorado, if you spray-paint an underground tunnel, you will face jail time -- unless you're the son of a Westminster cop.
For Alex Gonzalez and his two friends, this ridiculously harsh sentence is now a reality. However, their fourth friend, Paul Damian Perez, has received a much lighter sentence of unsupervised probation.
Perez has some "pull" on the inside, his dad is Westminster police officer.
"I do know that his dad is a city of Westminster police officer," said Tracy Gonzales, Alex's mother. "I have a good feeling that definitely did help. His dad was there for court, dressed in full police officer uniform."
According to 7NEWS, the city of Westminster would not comment on camera or agree to an interview, saying that the cases are still "subject to appeal."
However, it is the policy of the city that 99.9 % of all adult graffiti artists will do jail time.
"Adult graffiti offenders are given jail time 99.9 percent of the time. The Municipal Court may deviate from that policy if the offender has diminished mental capacity, if the offender has offenses pending of a felony level or to obtain an offender’s cooperation."
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In an email, city officials said Perez received a lighter sentence because the charges against the teens were different because of the degree and frequency of the painting.
However, according to Gonzales, Perez was with him during all of the paintings. But these facts must have slipped by the prosecutors in Perez' case, allowing him to fit into the 0.1% of the crowd who avoids the city's ridiculously stiff punishment for graffiti.
The fact is that none of these kids should be in jail for this crime. Most municipalities punish graffiti with community service, fines, or just cleaning up graffiti around town. Hard time for painting seems ridiculous, and it is.
According to 7NEWS, it costs more than $100 per day to house an inmate in the Adams County Jail, so jailing those three teens will cost Adams County taxpayers more than $22,000.
Having the teens paint over their vandalism would have been just a few hundred dollars and their lives wouldn't have been ruined. Instead, the taxpayers suffer, these three teens now have felony records, they won't graduate high school, and their future job opportunities will be stifled.
For the son of a cop, however, all is good.