Aug 15 2014
One of the nation’s strictest curfew laws targeting children went into effect last Friday in Baltimore Maryland. In a city with a population that is two thirds African American, Baltimore’s Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said that the law will help keep youth in Baltimore safe. The new law will replace a previous curfew law that was rarely enforced. Unaccompanied children under the age of 14 will now be required to be in their homes by 9pm and children who are 14 to 16 years old must be off the streets by 10pm on weekdays and 11pm on weekends and during the summer.
Although police will not arrest or handcuff any children, they will take them to a holding center set up by the city where parents can pick them up. Parents will have the option of paying a fine of up to $500 or go into counseling if their children are brought in.
While proponents of the curfew single out safety concerns in a city which has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the country, critics point out serious flaws with the law which they say will foster a ‘stop and frisk’ atmosphere. Racial profiling and ‘show me your papers’ mentality are also major concerns.
In New Orleans which also has a strict youth curfew law on the books, a 2011 investigation found that 93 percent of the children who were detained for curfew violations were Black. Research has shown little correlation between youth curfews and lower crime rates.
GUEST: Garland Nixon a board member of the ACLU of Maryland. He is also the host of Newsviews on the Pacifica affiliate WPFW 89.3 FM in Washington DC