Should Dallas keep its juvenile curfew?

On Wednesday, the Texas Civil Rights Project announced a campaign to end the City of Dallas juvenile curfew ordinance. The coalition of Dallas groups leading the effort notes that nearly 90 percent of young people prosecuted under the ordinance are black or Latino.

The law “undermines community trust in police, undermines the rights of parents, and needlessly funnels young people, particularly young people of color, into the criminal justice system,” the group stresses. More than 11,000 citations have been issued by the Dallas Police Department under the ordinance since 2007.

The ordinance expires in January, and the group has released their data and opinions now in hopes of persuading the Dallas City Council to abolish it.

Currently, Dallas juveniles are required to be home from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday nights and by midnight Friday and Saturday. Kids are also required to attend school and can be found truant if found roaming the neighborhood during school hours. Parents who allow their kids to violate curfew can be fined up to $500, and businesses can be fined for allowing young people to hang around on their premises. Exceptions can be made for kids out after hours for work, for an emergency, at a school or church event or accompanied by a parent.

The coalition points to evidence indicating that curfews fail to reduce crime and showing that kids between ages 10 and 16 who receive Class C misdemeanor tickets face arrest, court costs, fines and criminal records without benefit of legal representation.

To express your opinion regarding the city’s curfew law, you may contact Lake Highlands councilmember Adam McGough at adam.mcgough@dallascityhall.com.

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