A recent study suggests youth curfews work to reduce crime. The study, published in the American Law and Economics Review, looked at data between 1980 and 2004 in cities of 180,000 or more with curfews. The data showed a drop in youth arrests in those cities. Here’s a portion of the abstract:
The evidence suggests that curfews are effective at reducing both violent and property crimes committed by juveniles below the statutory curfew age. Arrests of adults and youth above the curfew age also appear to decrease in the wake of curfew enactment; however, these effects are smaller and statistically insignificant.
But critics of the study say the author never compared the cities with curfews to those that don’t have curfews. Perhaps the decline of the arrest rate of juveniles has nothing to do with curfews. Most research does not support curfews and at least one analysis found curfews can instigate youth crime.
Rochester enacted a youth curfew in 2006, but the courts struck it down several years later. The court ruling found the curfew violated the constitution and wasn’t necessary:
The court held that neither the crime statistics for the City nor the statements and opinions from political officials and the chief of police provided the requisite nexus to withstand even intermediate scrutiny; in other words, there was no demonstrated substantial relationship between the ordinance and its stated goals The court also determined that the curfew impermissibly interfered with parents’ fundamental substantive due process right to direct and control the upbringing of their children.
The data backs up the court ruling. While Rochester’s curfew was in place, more than 5,000 young people were picked up. Only a small number – 54 – were found committing felonies. It’s also worth pointing out 2008 was among Rochester’s most violent that decade.
It would have been nice to see a comprehensive study on Rochester’s curfew and its effectiveness, but it’s unlikely one will ever be enacted again here.