Unjust Curfews Essay

1153 words - 5 pages

A curfew is a regulation requiring people, specifically minors, to remain indoors between specified hours. These restrictions can sometimes cause more problems between a city that enforces the curfew and a teenager that mistakenly breaks it. A recent lawsuit has been filed against the city of Wanaque, New Jersey. The lawsuit says Shaina Harris, a 16-year old Wanaque resident, left her home on Lake Drive on the night of September 22, 2013 with her mother's permission. She then walked an estimated, 200 feet, to buy a milkshake at Burger King on a nearby street. Around 11:30 that night she was spotted leaving the Burger King by police Sgt. Angelo Calabro, who informed the girl she was violating the curfew law and told her to call her parents. Her stepfather walked across the street and picked her up, and then went home. Harris may face a fine of one hundred dollars and possible fifteen hours of community service if she is convicted. The main reason that the curfew laws are present today is to keep a certain group of people, specifically teenagers, out of trouble and possibly committing crimes. Hundreds of cities have curfews, encouraged in part by support in the 1990s from President Bill Clinton. A survey taken by the U.S. Conference of Mayors in the late 1990s found that the overwhelming majority of city leaders considered such laws worthwhile (Cowen). Teenage curfew laws should be removed because they are unjust and ineffective.
Curfews do not prevent teenage crimes. For instance, an article that explains the statistics of teenage crime; it mentioned that, “The number of school days in a year is essentially equal to the number of non-school days in a year. Despite this split, most violent crimes (63%) are committed by juveniles on school days. Nearly one-fifth (19%) of juvenile violent crimes occur in the 4 hours between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on school days. A smaller proportion of juvenile violent crime (15%) occurs during the standard juvenile curfew hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. including both school and non-school days.” (Juvenile Violent Crime). Since the number of juvenile crimes decreases during the hours of the curfew, this implies that the curfew law may help to stop a few crimes committed between those hours. On the other hand, there are still a large amount of juvenile crimes that take place during the times of the curfew, which implies that teens will do what they want, when they want, and also that the curfew is not an effective solution to teenage problems and possible crimes.
Curfew laws discriminate against teens. This was referenced by the main attorney in the lawsuit mentioned earlier, he said, "I would say 80 to 90 percent of the teenagers out there are good kids” (Jackson). In addition, he said that, “To pass a law that targets the 15 to 20 percent unfairly penalizes the other good teenagers who are getting out of a movie late"(Jackson). Since about ten to twenty percent of the teenagers who roam the streets during the hours...

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