Lubbock Looking to Reinstate Juvenile Curfew, But Is It a Good Idea?
Former councilman Floyd Price believes that Lubbock should go back to its 1990s-style curfew system for minors.
Lubbock already has a curfew in place for minors 16 and under. If Lubbock were to go back to the curfew of the 90s, it would criminalize minors under 18 for being outside between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. It would reinstate a curfew center to detain minors, and ticketing for minors and their parents.
I know this is a terrible idea.
I get why it seems like a good idea. Teens out late at night can get into trouble. They might break into cars, they might do drugs, they may get involved in gang activity.
But curfew or not, teens will still do all of that. They'll just work around the curfew. Teenagers make judgments based on their feelings, not their intellect. If it feels important to them to be out at night, they'll do it.
When I was in high school, I had a friend whose parents sent her to a military-style school as punishment for running away. She said, "they are making me a faster, stronger criminal." She had a really good point. She didn't run away because she was inherently bad; she was running away because her parents were going through a toxic divorce. When she needed love and assurance, she was given the opportunity to make all the wrong connections and all the wrong friends. They decided she was a criminal, so a criminal she became.
I was a teenager in Lubbock in the late 1990s and was subject to municipal curfew laws. Did that prevent me from being out past 11 p.m.? Hell no. What it did was make me better at subterfuge. It forced me to trust sketchy adults. It made me distrust law enforcement who could punish me for simply existing as a human being outside. I never hurt anyone or stole anything, I was never involved in a gang. But I did end up in dangerous situations.
When I was that age, my favorite thing to do was to walk for miles or swing on the playground for hours. I had a lot of anxiety to burn off. I wish I could have just had that space to have that peace.
The big push towards curfew went hand-in-hand with extreme mandatory minimum sentencing laws and a massive rise of incarceration rates. It was the tough on crime policies of the Clinton-era.
The Clinton Administration signed a measure in 1996 that allotted $75 million toward communities so that they could institute new curfew laws.
Yup -- it was Democrats who pushed for this.
So what does a juvenile curfew really do? It forces police to stop and question any young looking person out past 11 p.m. and will require them to show their I.D. It will force police to spend their time taking in minors rather than patrolling for actual suspicious or criminal activity. It will use up police to man the curfew detention center. Lubbock already has a shortage of police. Imagine having an emergency and there isn't anyone available to help you because they are babysitting 17 year olds.
A curfew will also punish poor minors who have to work late and may have to walk or bike home. It will make minors miss some community events, including concerts, sporting events and even some church events. It excludes them from the adult community that should be loving and supporting them, not criminalizing their existence. It will make criminals out of regular kids.
If kids are committing crimes, punish them for crimes, not for being outside. And please, please don't waste our officers' time. They have plenty to do already.