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As New Orleans begins youth curfew, questions about effectiveness persist

Martes, 04 de Junio de 2019 | América del Norte, Estados Unidos
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New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell announces on Wednesday (May 29, 2019) that the city will begin enforcing a curfew law that has been on the books since 1994.

New Orleans police will begin enforcing the city’s juvenile curfew law at 8 p.m. Monday (June 3) in the French Quarter and an hour later in the rest of the city. It will require youth to be off the streets until 6 a.m. Enforcement will begin at 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Officials have defended the curfew as a way to make positive contact with juveniles who are roaming neighborhoods, connect them with city services and identify reasons why their parents would let them out late at night. In an interview after last week, Tenisha Stevens, Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s criminal justice commissioner, said the city decided to implement the curfew with an eye toward “saving our youth because not only do we know that kids are involved in criminal activity, but they’re also victims of crime as well.”

“We’re not talking about the kids who are leaving a NORD facility at 8 o’clock,” Stevens said. “We’re looking at the kids who are at 1, 2 in the morning pulling on door handles and smashing car windows.”

The city’s curfew ordinance allows police to pick up juveniles and take them to Covenant House where their parents will be called. Emily Wolff, director of the city’s Office of Youth and Families, said enforcement will be “in a way that’s strategic ... that’s just as much about the child’s safety is about public safety.”

In New Orleans, parents are charged with a municipal offense if their child is found out past curfew three times in a single calendar year. Children cannot be charged under the law, and breaking curfew is considered a “status offense" due to the child’s status as a minor.

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