Juvenile curfews

According to Lundman, the enforcement of curfews is in line with the deterrence theory that states that "certain, swift, and severe punishments" will cause juveniles to rationally weigh consequences and commit fewer criminal acts (1993, p. 150). The objective is to protect children from being exposed or to engage in crime and delinquencies. Juveniles are viewed as being both susceptible and vulnerable to these offenses and may lack the maturity and experience to successfully deal with the situations (Hemmens & Bennett, 1999).

The objective of curfews is not to restrict minors but rather to regulate their activities so that their lifestyles follow the model of behavior for their age (Ruefle & Reynolds, 1995). By 1996, 200 American cities had put in place forms of juvenile curfew and the trend seems to be towards that direction (Ruefle & Reynolds, 1996, pp. 63-64). The increase in crime incidence against and by minors is the primary motivation for the implementation of curfews (Adams, 2003; Hemmens & Bennett, 1999). The crimes being perpetrated have ranged from misdemeanor to felonies.

Statistics in 2002 have shown that about 2. 3 million arrests were made of juveniles which accounts for 17% of all total arrests (Jacobs, 2005). Jacobs’s further points out that “poverty, welfare dependence, absent parents, one-parent families, unwed mothers, and parents who did not graduate from high school” were common among the arrested minors and consider these as indicative of these juvenile misdemeanors (2005). Implementation of curfew is not limited to the institutionalization of laws and regulations.

The critical factor is in its implementation, the will to support the regulation and consequent influence in decreasing crimes against and by juveniles. The political will to impose juvenile curfews drives the prevalence of the type of regulation. Wilgoren and Fiore said that in the U. S. Conference of Mayors in 1997, 88% of the cities implementation juvenile curfews claimed that it reduced the incidence of youth crimes but without comprehensive statistical data to support the claim (Jacobs, 2005).

According to Bilchik (1996), curfews are usually set by families to their children but it is also possible for government to impose curfews and that these actions are “enacted and enforced throughout the Nation's history in reaction to increased juvenile delinquency, decreased parental supervision, and other social trends”. The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) monitor the implementation and regulate the curfews that are focused minors. According to the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, curfew violators are to be held in juvenile detention centers and have to be retrieved by their parents.

This process is supposed to make the parents not just aware of the violation but also to evaluate the cause of the behavior and the its consequences (Bedi, 2006) Issues Raised The general public opinion of most people is that curfews can be effective. However, this genial view of the policy becomes conflicted when it is actually applied already. The issues raised were regarding the constitutionality, enforcement and actually affectivity of the measure. Constitutionality The argument for the unconstitutionality of juvenile curfews raises issues against the presumption of guilt or wrongdoing.

Juvenile curfews are constitutionally suspect in a more fundamental respect as well: "it is not permissible to enact a law which, in effect, spreads an all-inclusive net for the feet of everybody upon the chance that, while the innocent will surely be entangled in its meshes, some wrongdoers may also be caught"  (Hemmens & Bennett, 1999). The central idea is whether juvenile crimes and delinquencies should warrant all-encompassing regulation directness for minors regardless whether they are actually guilty of the crimes or not. Curfews are applied to all minors not just those who are actually violating the actions it wants to prevent.

It should be clear that the motivation for curfews is not to curd basic constitutional rights for self-determination and expression but rather its objectives is regulation and protection. Critics recognize this but also point out that in the course on instituting juvenile curfews, these rights are still impeded indirectly (Brown & Santana, 1998). Enforcement The next set of issue raised is against whether cities are actually able to implement the curfews indiscriminately and thoroughly without impeding other needed services or operations.

The argument is that if cities are not able to implement the curfew measures to all minors, then it defeats its purpose as well as raises discriminatory issues. The implementation of curfews entails a great deal of manpower that may not be supported by the existing police force (Carr, 2006). The establishment of the required programs and facilities, as mandated by the OJJDP, to address the offenders is also something that has to be developed well before the implantation of the juvenile curfew programs (Bilchik, 1996).

On the other side of the spectrum, communities must also be oriented regarding the objectives, mechanics and consequences of juvenile curfew programs to avoid conflicts. Conflicts between parental and legislated curfew has figured dominantly in cases regarding the implementation of these measures (Macallair & Males, 1999). The penalties of violation must also be valued carefully: if the penalties are too light, then the regulation becomes futile (Carr, 2006); if it is too severe it can lead to resentment rather than compliance (Bedi, 1996). 

Among all the arguments raised regarding the validity of implementing curfews, the lack of comprehensive historical and statistical data seems to be the most compelling against juvenile curfews. Though cities implementing the system have attested to the effectivity of the measures as indicated by Wilgoren and Fiore (1997) very little extensive research has been done recently to substantiate these claims. Studies have not been able to link directly the implementation of juvenile curfews to decreases in juvenile related crime (Cobey, n. d. ).