Juvenile Curfew

The council considered whether to renew the juvenile nighttime curfew, and whether to expand the curfew to include daytime hours (9am to 2pm) on weekdays.

The new law makes it illegal for children to be in public between the hours of 9am and 2pm on weekdays (there are several defenses: being accompanied by parent, school wasn’t in session, etc.). The purpose of the law is to punish truants with fines of up to $500. State law prevents schools from imposing fines or otherwise penalizing students until they have committed 10 offenses. Supporters argue that a daytime curfew will reduce juvenile crime.

While I understand the motivation of those supporting this ordinance, I cannot support a curfew that criminalizes children being in public places. I also cannot support an ordinance that will further burden our police when they are struggling to respond to serious 911 calls. Furthermore, because Dallas has dozens and dozens of private and public schools, all with their own calendars and holidays, imposing a juvenile daytime curfew will prove an administrative nightmare for police.

The daytime curfew is unnecessary. If the purpose is to get truants off the street, the police already have the authority to stop truants and taken them back to their schools.

I voted against the nighttime curfew (it passed 13-1). The council unanimously delayed the daytime curfew decision to May 13.