To its proponents, Baltimore's new youth curfew, one of the nation’s strictest, will provide an effective way to keep kids off the streets late at night, making them less likely to become victims or perpetrators of violence, reports Youth Today. Supporters say the curfew will help connect vulnerable children and their families with an array of city, state and community services to help them. Detractors call the curfew virtual house arrest,” in the words of an American Civil Liberties Union attorney. Some African-American residents see the curfew as a potential tool of repression that will lead to police harassing black youths in low-income neighborhoods.
Despite protests and chants of “no youth curfew,” the City Council approved the curfew, 13-2, on June 2. Councilman Brandon Scott, who sponsored it, took inspiration from a curfew in Kansas City, Mo. He traveled there last summer to check out that city's curfew and its recreation and parks program. Scott liked the idea that the curfew there imposes different hours for the school year and the rest of the year, as Baltimore's curfew will, but wasn't a fan of geographic restrictions that forbid youths to be in parts of KC's entertainment districts during some hours. Baltimore police officers trained to focus on youths violating the curfew, which will start as early as 9 p.m. for some youths, will ask for identification proving age and transport those found to be in violation of the curfew to one of two initial “Youth Connection Centers” where the youths will be interviewed and will remain until parents or guardians pick them up.