The Sensible Sentencing Trust says prison is an appropriate option to punish graffiti vandals.
The trust says jailing a persistent tagger may stop a subsequent life of crime.
However, Victoria University criminologist Fiona Hutton sees this as a "kneejerk reaction".
She says jailing taggers may not be as effective as finding the underlying causes of tagging.
Dr Hutton says there are questions over the effectiveness of prison as a long term deterrent.
She and a colleague are to research what motivates taggers and what will stop them.