Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Teens Protest Proposed Curfew

Young people (and quite a few older people) came out in force to express their opposition to a bill to establish a youth curfew in Montgomery County. The bill, introduced by the County Executive and supported by the Police Department, is intended to address issues relating to increased gang activity, violence and crime involving minors. It would impose a curfew of midnight on weekends and 11:00 p.m. on weekdays for people under the age of 18.

There’s a lot to think about in regard to this bill, and I expect we will have detailed discussions about it before taking any action. Regardless of whether this bill passes or how it may change during our deliberations, I must commend our youth for their civic engagement. Several teens spoke extremely eloquently at the public hearing, while dozens more supported them from the gallery. A few wrote us e-mails and thousands expressed their views via Facebook. To our civically active teens, I say: keep up the good work!

Our Public Safety Committee will take up the issue on September 15, and the full Council will consider it after that, so there is still plenty of time to let us know what you think.


Rev. John Cooper-Martin said...

I am against the proposed juvenile curfew. I am against the curfew, because curfews for many reasons. Curfews usurp my rights, as a parent, to direct and control my children by giving the police unlimited discretion to arrest young people engaged in wholly legitimate and constitutionally protected conduct.

Curfews, at their core, place everyone in a particular demographic under "house arrest" because of the actions of a minority. Criminalizing the innocent behavior of teenagers is also fundamentally ineffective. Studies show that curfew laws do nothing to deter crime or protect young people. Instead, curfew enforcement shifts valuable and limited police resources away from crime prevention. The police already have the ability to arrest juveniles when they break the law – the curfew will add nothing except giving police the right to arrest the innocent as well.

Although I am not a racial minority, past experience has also shown that curfew laws are highly susceptible to racially biased enforcement. If the curfew is passed, I can foresee a suit, brought against the County, because of the unconstitutionality of such a curfew, which would be a waste of taxpayer dollars, especially in the county's difficult budgetary times.

I hope you will take a stand against the proposed juvenile curfew. Thank you for your consideration of this matter.

Rev. John Cooper-Martin
Rockville, MD

Mindy said...

I believe that curfew is not needed for disciplined people. A disciplined teen for example won’t commit crime because they know that doing so is bad and won’t have any advantage. But for cases where there are so many crimes that occurs mostly during night time then they need that curfew until crime rate will lower down.