KATU viewer has suggestion for graffiti cleanup: Use prison inmates

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A story we told you about on KATU-TV about a man on a mission struck a chord with a viewer, and now she has a suggestion that she feels will help clean up the city and save money.

You may have seen our “City in Crisis, Finding Solutions” story two weeks ago about Michael Corrie. He’s 84 years old and at least once a week, he paints over graffiti in Portland neighborhoods. He spends his own money on paint.

He feels the city isn’t doing enough to clean up graffiti and lacks accountability for those responsible.

A viewer named Marilyn Lorenz called KATU News and suggested that the state use prison inmates to paint over graffiti, the same way they clean up trash along our roads and highways.

“It’s just an idea of who could actually do it, rather than pay a company to go do it. We’re already housing the prisoners, so let them do something to give back to their community. They’re trying to turn their life around,” said Lorenz.

She also thinks the city could provide a spot for graffiti artists to show their artwork.

KATU News reached out to the Oregon Corrections Department and asked if inmates could be used for graffiti removal. They said none of the contracts they have at this time involve graffiti cleanup.

They went on to say, “If we were in a contract with another agency, and they wanted to explore graffiti cleanup, we would look into what would be needed to make that occur. Equipment needs, supplies, frequency of the need, if we have work crews available, etc. would all be points explored during the initiation of setting up a contract with another entity.”

KATU also reached out to the city of Portland to see if they would consider using inmates to clean up the mass amounts of graffiti, and we have not heard back.

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