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Constitutionality of Juvenile Curfews

NCJ Number
Juvenile and Family Court Journal Volume: 46 Issue: 2 Dated: (Spring 1995) Pages: 17-30
A K Marketos
Date Published
14 pages
This article suggests that juvenile curfew ordinances provide a constitutionally untenable solution to the crime problem.
An alternative constitutional solution presents itself in the Model Penal Code's Loitering and Prowling act. The article demonstrates this by first outlining the basic structure of a juvenile curfew ordinance. Second, the courts' inconsistent conclusions regarding the equal protection challenge to juvenile curfews are examined. This discussion contains several arguments that support the proposition that the judiciary's inconsistency regarding equal protection requires adoption of a different approach to juvenile crime prevention. The U.S. Supreme Court has failed to address the extent to which a juvenile curfew may infringe on a minor's fundamental rights. This lack of guidance forces lower courts to adopt a framework from an abortion case. Moreover, the tension between formalist and realist ideologies creates inconsistencies when considering juvenile crime statistics and the effectiveness of a curfew in a narrowly tailored analysis. Further inconsistencies are also evident when courts consider overbreadth challenges to the exceptions of an ordinance. The author also demonstrates that courts reach inconsistent results when considering the constitutionality of juvenile curfews; this suggests that another solution, not requiring an equal protection analysis, is more appropriate. The author also shows that existing solutions to these problems are insufficient. The Model Penal Code's Loitering and Prowling act is presented as an alternative solution, and potential criticisms of this approach are addressed. 236 notes