Baltimore’s new curfew law is one of the strictest in the nation. It calls for kids under age 14 to be off the streets by 9 PM; those aged 14 to 16 can stay out until 10 PM. The law is intended to reduce crime and improve safety, but it’s been criticized as overly strict and unfair. And now the New York Times is weighing in on the debate.
The Times points out that other cities, including Kansas City and Philadelphia, have enacted strict curfew laws in recent years–but only after particular outbreaks of violence. Baltimore’s law is different, because it’s not intended as a short-term measure.
The Times also notes that curfew laws tend to be unfairly applied; in the case of Kansas City, about 75 percent of those rounded up under the curfew law were black, even though African Americans make up only 30 percent of the city’s population.
Under the new law, youths out and about after hours can be stopped by police officers and taken to a youth center. Officers can also fine their parents as much as $500. Teens who are with their parents or on the way back from work or a school activity are exempted.