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DC Curfew

Written by Katrina Moncure Oct 20, 2007
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The following is a rough transcript of this video.

I’ve lived in the DC area my whole life. I ride metro sometimes. I love the Redskins.

But there is one thing about the city that I am utterly ashamed of, and that is that Washington DC has a youth curfew law in effect. Under the law, if you’re under the age of 17, you cannot be out past 11pm. The city officials created this law back in 1999 (I think?) to make residents believe they were doing something about a crime problem. But it doesn’t make any sense. How exactly do you solve a crime problem by blaming on a scapegoat demographic, a group of people everybody already hates anyway?

And this is dangerous. If there is a crime problem, then it’s because law enforcement is inadequate. All a curfew law does is give inadequate law enforcement more to do. Last year, there were several hundred counts of homicide, several hundred counts of sexual assault, and two thousand counts each of car theft, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, arson, and of all kinds of other things.

What do you tell these victims when you’re sending law enforcement after innocent teenagers?

What do you tell a woman who was raped, but the cops were busy arresting a 16-year-old who was coming home from work a little bit late?

What do you tell a family when their house was broken into late at night when the police were waiting outside a club somewhere that was full of teenagers so they could arrest good kids for curfew violation?

What do you tell little kids when Daddy won’t be coming home anymore because he was shot to death by a 30-year-old mugger while the police were busy hassling a 19-year-old who looked like he was too young to be out?

What do you tell a good mother who must go to the police station late at night to pick up her 14-year-old daughter, who was picked up for being outside, and to have to be told that she is an irresponsible parent because she allowed her daughter to be out?

What do you tell a disabled uncle, whose only helper is his 15-year-old nephew, and he needs an errand run late at night, but if that 15-year-old were to help him, he’d be a criminal?

Who’s helping any of these people? The curfew isn’t protecting anybody. Instead it’s just distracting the main protection that they have. You’re sending law enforcement after a scapegoated demographic and not after criminals, which makes everybody more vulnerable, everybody more unsafe.

Curfews aren’t the answer. They just increase crime. You can’t solve a crime problem by just discriminating against people and taking away their constitutional right to be outside. It doesn’t do anything. It doesn’t do anyone any good. It’s just a “feel good” law which accomplishes nothing.

So please, if you want to solve a crime problem, get rid of the curfew, strengthen law enforcement, and go after the real criminals!

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