ACLU Fights Anti-Crime Late Night Youth Curfew
Yakima Herald-Republic – 8/14/2006
The City Council of Yakima, Washington, is planning to vote on a late night curfew for the city’s teenagers under age 18. The curfew would run from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and midnight to 6:00 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. Fines would be up to $250 per offense. There would be exemptions which would allow minors to travel to and from work and run errands for their parents. Married and emancipated juveniles would be exempt.
Councilman Micah Cawley noted, “We have a real gang and graffiti problem here…it takes a combination of things to crack down on that.” Councilman Norm Johnson added, “We must have a lot of parents in this community who have given up on being parents, and it’s sad…(w)e have to do something about kids running around at night.”
The Washington State ACLU is urging the city to reject the plan, claiming a curfew unfairly restricts the movements of young people and may be illegal. Instead, they say the city should give youths more things to do (after 11:00 p.m.?) and to work on improving law enforcement.
The ACLU, in addition to opposing the proposed curfew, stands ready to file costly lawsuits if juveniles call complaining that their rights have been violated.