When the clock strikes 11 p.m. in Lowell, Mass., almost nobody under 17 is allowed on the city streets without parents. Those caught violating the curfew are subject to jail or a $300 fine. Now the state’s highest court will decide whether the curfew, enacted 14 years ago as juvenile crime rates soared, violates the rights of those it seeks to protect, reports the Boston Globe.
This is the first time a Massachusetts state court will rule on whether juvenile curfews are legal, and communities with curfews – including Lynn, Holyoke and Chicopee – are watching the case closely. More than 400 communities around the country have enacted curfews to protect teenagers and to prevent them from committing crimes, but state and federal courts have not agreed on whether juvenile curfews are constitutional. In separate cases in the 1990s, federal appeals courts upheld curfews in the District of Columbia, Charlottesville, and Dallas. But more recently, courts have rejected curfews.