San Diego Enforces Curfew, But Does It Do Any Good?


San Diego's juvenile curfew law–so rigorously enforced that every juvenile San Diego CityBeat interviewed at random admitted to being stopped for it and so restrictive that it incurred the wrath of the American Civil Liberties Union–was enacted as a way to cut down on gang violence. By that standard, the 10 p.m.-to-6 a.m. youth ban has failed, says CityBeat. After 11 years and thousands of curfew citations and arrests since the law took effect, gang-related crimes are up 23 percent this year over last, and gang-related homicides increased 61 percent during that same period.

Despite the San Diego Police Department's insistence that great effort is made to inform the community of the curfew, all of the 15 parents interviewed for this story were either confused about which hours the law covered or unaware a curfew even existed. Nine years ago, the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice in San Francisco studied curfew laws in large California cities and found they had virtually no impact on juvenile crime except a negative one: introducing youths to the criminal-justice system for the first time. Said the center’s Dan Macallair: “We looked at communities that had curfew enforcement and three that didn't and saw no difference in crime rates across the board. You had youth crime decline in cities that didn't have enforcement and no decline in cities that did.”


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