Youth Curfew is a Bad Idea

County Executive Ike Leggett has proposed a nightly curfew for minors in MoCo. Those under 18 could be taken to the precinct if found on the streets between 11 pm and 5 am (12-5 on weekends). Fines and parenting classes could be imposed on mom and dad.

To be sure, kids don’t belong on the streets during those hours. But that is an issue for parents, not for the police. There are lots of problems with this proposal.

First, it is ridden with loopholes. Children are exempt if they are accompanied by a parent or guardian, or if they are on an errand for parent or guardian, or going to or from work, or going to or from a school function or a religious function. It seems that it would be all too easy for children to evade the curfew.

Second, it is likely to be ineffective at reducing crime (its stated purpose). A study of a similar curfew in DC found that the curfew did not help reduce crime rates.

Most important, it is too random and broad for comfort. There are constitutional questions, issues of basic civil liberties (freedom of association, freedom of speech). County Executive Leggett says that it won’t be used except “where youth are exhibiting potentially dangerous behaviors.” Well, police can do that now – without needing this clumsy, overreaching, and invasive tool.

The county has a hard enough time doing the jobs it is supposed to be doing; it shouldn’t take on additional tasks that are intrusive and likely to be pointless.

Explore posts in the same categories: Civil Liberties, Crime, Police State


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