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Baltimore poised to impose strict new youth curfew


By Ian Simpson

(Reuters) - City officials in crime-ridden Baltimore on Tuesday defended plans for one of the toughest U.S. youth curfews against criticism from residents who were skeptical about police enforcement of the new law.

In a forum with residents, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the measure, set to take effect on Aug. 8, was aimed at getting children off the streets before they were put in danger.

"This is not about criminalizing young black children but to reach them before the only option for them is law enforcement," the mayor told the crowd of about 100 people.

Police Commissioner Anthony Batts said he had sometimes come across children riding bicycles across the city at 3 a.m. When the parents were contacted, they had no idea where their children were, he said.

"They should not be out there, and you should be honest about that," Batts said.

The new curfew in Baltimore, the setting for such gritty television police dramas as "The Wire", will make it a violation for a youth under 14 to be outside their homes after 9 p.m. year-round. Those aged 14 to 16 would be banned from being outside on school nights after 10 p.m. and on other nights after 11 p.m.

Police could take violators to a curfew center, where they and the parents will have access to social services. Parents would have to take city-approved counseling classes and could face a $500 fine for repeat violations, up from the previous $300.

Children younger than 17 can now stay out until 11 on weeknights and until midnight on weekends.

CRITICISM

Many residents at the forum said they opposed the law because police officers were often overly aggressive and failed to investigate crimes.

One man told the mayor: "Youth are a ticking time bomb". He said parents would put their low-wage jobs at risk if they had to leave to pick up their children at a curfew center.

Mayor Rawlings-Blake replied: "Once you decide to be a parent you are a parent 24 hours a day, and when you have difficulties you cannot cast off your responsibility."

The forum at the University of Baltimore Law School was sometimes interrupted by shouts from the crowd. When the session ended, members of a leftist group, Fight Imperialism Stand Together, shouted obscenities and chanted: "No new curfew".

FBI statistics for 2012 show Baltimore, which has about 625,000 people, almost two-thirds of them black, had one of the highest rates of violent crime of any U.S. city, with 218 murders. But there are signs that crime is starting to fall. The mayor's office said homicides for the year so far totaled 116, down 14 percent from the same period last year.

The American Civil Liberties Union, as well as the Fraternal Order of Police, have argued that the tougher curfew will be ineffective and burdens police officers who are given few guidelines about how to enforce it.

The ACLU of Maryland said in a statement that the curfew was more likely to entangle young people in the criminal justice system.

Baltimore is among many U.S. cities with curfews. The U.S. Conference of Mayors reported in 1997 that 80 percent of 347 cities surveyed had nighttime youth curfews.

A 2011 University of California-Berkeley analysis of FBI data showed arrests of youths affected by curfew restrictions fell 15 percent in the first year and about 10 percent in following years.

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Join the discussion

1000|Characters 1000  Characters
TOM July 30 2014 at 6:41 AM

ITS ABOUT TIME SOMEONE HAS TAKEN SOME ACTION - KIDS AND THIER PARENTS HAVE TO BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR THIER ACTIONS

Flag Reply +100 rate up
6 replies
t27 July 30 2014 at 6:45 AM

Wow! As a resident of B-more I think this is a great idea. I raised five children in this city and worked some lousy wage jobs with lousy hours but I knew where my children were all the time.

Flag Reply +100 rate up
10 replies
thorrsman July 30 2014 at 6:47 AM

Considering the age of violent gang members, this seems like an excellent idea.

Now if there parents would just toss their rooms looking for weapons and drugs...

Flag Reply +99 rate up
11 replies
patriot1too July 30 2014 at 7:21 AM

It is good to keep these saggy pants sideways cap hoody wearing thugs off our streets so that normal citizens will be safe from their hate filled racist crimes.

Flag Reply +99 rate up
22 replies
rjen164497 July 30 2014 at 7:02 AM

It is another example of the lack of parenting. Most of these children don't stand a chance because they don't have a home father. The mother thinks she is entitled to ***** around and produce babies that the government should raise,support, and pay her.
Our WEFARE country is now producing the lowest of moral standards ever.

Flag Reply +99 rate up
20 replies
are.we.better.off.now July 30 2014 at 7:25 AM

Bravo, Bravo, Bravo -----
Common sense wins over Liberalism.!
This "strict new youth curfew" law has been imposed in my area for decades and assures proper behavior of youth and less crime.
Win - Win - Win....
The "CRITICISM" listed here
is nothing more than
weak-kneed Liberal crying.
- Just ignore it.
Clear thinking combined with this positive action will make Baltimore a much better & happier place to live.

Flag Reply +98 rate up
42 replies
IBruzEZ July 30 2014 at 6:44 AM

If parents don't have the sense to keep their kids in then there needs to be curfews to give everyone guidelines. Kids are being shot, killed on the streets so.. help keep them off the streets.! Sounds like a good plan to me.

Flag Reply +86 rate up
3 replies
for.good.or.evil July 30 2014 at 8:26 AM

As a young man,
I was raise to believe that
"Nothing Good Happens after midnight"
Go home kiddies...!

Flag Reply +74 rate up
3 replies
BroPower July 30 2014 at 7:37 AM

Why are 90% of the perps
shown here black?
But then, 70% of the cops shown are also black so never-mind...
BTW - only 12% of America is black but every time I read an article about 'trouble in the city' or crimes anywhere, it always focuses on the black population!
WHY is this..?
Just more racism in America .....?

Flag +49 rate up
54 replies
dlnrjm July 30 2014 at 7:17 AM

I hate to say it but I think the curfew is probably a good thing in the long run. These kids need help.

Flag Reply +45 rate up
8 replies
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