Phila. To Enforce Curfew; Critics: “Almost Useless” Tactic


A Philadelphia law says that those 17 and younger must be off the streets by 10:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and by midnight Fridays and Saturdays, or face a fine of up to $300. The Philadelphia Inquirer says that Mayor John Street today is expected to announce a further curfew crackdown in certain parts of South Philadelphia, where juveniles are posing a particular problem. City Council is expected to consider a bill that would make the curfew earlier for young children.

Critics say that having police enforce curfew ordinances takes the officers away from other, bigger crimes. Crime-fighting dollars would be better spent on programs like midnight basketball or after-school activities, they say. “Curfews are almost useless, for two reasons,” said Barry Krisberg, president of the California-based National Council on Crime and Delinquency. “One, the research is very clear that the vast majority of youth crime and victimization takes place between the hours of 3 and 6 p.m., after school and before the parents come home. Very little juvenile crime takes place where curfews exist. Two, most of them [curfew laws] are toothless tigers, so a youth coming up with any plausible reason can get out of it.” Police spokesman Benjamin Naish called curfews “a good tool to have,” Naish said. But an even more effective tool is parental involvement, he said.


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