Criminology & Public Policy Volume: 6 Issue: 4 Dated: November 2007 Pages: 663-670
This essay argues against juvenile curfew laws based on four assertions derived from research.
First, research shows that juvenile curfew laws have failed to achieve their intended objectives of reducing juvenile crime and victimization. Explanations for the ineffectiveness of curfews are that juveniles commit a relatively small proportion of overall crime; most juvenile crime occurs at times when curfews are not in effect; many juveniles do not comply with curfew laws; and the effects of curfew crackdowns on crime have little effect over the long term. Second, curfews are inefficient. Police resources are relatively fixed and limited, so officers engaged in curfew enforcement are not available for other duties that may be more effective in controlling crime. For example, an officer involved in processing a curfew violation is not available to respond quickly to a potentially violent domestic conflict. Third, curfews are inconsistently enforced and potentially discriminatory. Full curfew enforcement is neither possible nor desirable, which means it inevitably involves officer discretion and selective enforcement. It is likely that police curfew enforcement efforts will focus on low-income, minority neighborhoods. Fourth, curfew enforcement can involve counterproductive escalation of sanctions. Curfew laws carry sanctions that add financial and emotional stress on parents/guardians and their interactions with their children, and it can lead to the incarceration of chronic offenders. 16 references
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