NYRA Chapter leader Bryce Hall spoke out against extending the juvenile curfew law in his home town of Fort Worth, Texas last Tuesday. He and other NYRA members attended the city’s Council meeting, where Bryce testified on the negative impact of curfew laws in his community. Unfortunately, the council decided to extend the curfew law for another three years. However, Bryce and other NYRA chapter leaders will continue to advocate for freedom of movement, voting rights, and youth rights in general. Below is a copy of Bryce’s speech to the Fort Worth City Council.
My name is Bryce Hall. I am a resident of the 91st district and am the current president of the Texas Vote16 Campaign, a campaign working with the National Youth Rights Association to ensure and support youth rights. My colleagues and I believe that there should be no further extension on curfew for Fort Worth teenage residents because any kind of government action of discrimination requires a compelling state interest. This means in order to restrict a constitutional right, you need to prove that this curfew laws actually stops crime. Curfew laws in other states have been found to be unconstitutional; is the City Council willing to spend taxpayer money to defend this law in court?
Let’s think about this rationally. Curfew laws are intended to stop young people from committing crimes by making them stay inside. If a person intends to commit a crime by stealing a car, vandalizing a home, or deal drugs why would they have any respect for another law that made it illegal to be outside? Aren’t laws against auto-theft, property damage, and drug dealing enough? Is policing otherwise law-abiding behavior the best use of police resources? In fact, violent crimes by juveniles peak in the afternoon between 3pm and 4pm and that rate of crime drops nearly 30% by midnight.
Also, many impoverished families have parents that work two jobs. Teenagers in those families have adult responsibilities, such as caring for his/her younger siblings. However, it’s very difficult to do so, with limited time.
Lastly, having a curfew can make it very difficult as a working teenager. For example, 80% of youth have current jobs, many of those jobs are requiring teens to stay until around 11:30pm. And, I myself am a waiter and my workplace gets very busy around 10:30-11pm. My economic responsibility should not be limited by a curfew. Job owners might even realize that curfew is a problem, and decide not to hire myself or any other hard working juvenile. I also have to worry about being stopped by the police and am not allowed to on an errand on my way home.
In conclusion, we believe there should be no time limit for the hard-working youth of Fort Worth that live a double-standard of having adult responsibilities, but not rights.