Study: Curfew Laws Reduce Juvenile Arrests

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police-car-siren-stock-photo-2 Clay Duda/JJIE.orgA recently published study found youth curfews reduce juvenile arrests. The study, published in The American Law and Economics Review by the University of California, Berkeley, showed arrests of youths were directly impacted by curfews, dropping almost 15 percent in the curfew’s first year and 10 percent in the following years.

The report analyzed data from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Unified Criminal Reporting files from 1980 to 2004 for 54 large U.S. cities (with populations more than 180,000) that enacted youth curfews between 1985 and 2002.

Arrests of young adults outside the curfew restriction also dropped suggesting fewer cross-age interactions, according to the study.

A survey in 1996, found 146 of the largest 200 U.S. cities had curfew laws on the books. Previous studies found little correlation between curfew laws and reductions in juvenile crime.

In Atlanta, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, police have often ignored a long-standing curfew ordinance. But Mayor Kasim Reed announced in May police would once again enforce the law, fining parents of repeat curfew offenders with the possibility of 60 days in jail. Parents of a child caught violating curfew will receive a warning on the first offense.

The curfew in Atlanta means teens 16 and under cannot be out of their homes without adult supervision from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and from midnight to 6 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

According to the AJC, with its penalties for parents, the Atlanta curfew law is one of the toughest in the Atlanta metro area. But the study in The American Law and Economics Review says parents are often the primary curfew enforcers and “municipal curfews act as focal point in the establishment of household policies.”

Photo by Clay Duda | JJIE.org

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