ACLU questions new Baltimore curfew

BALTIMORE - Baltimore's new curfew law takes effect Friday night.

City officials say it's aimed at keeping kids safe. Opponents say it unfairly targets kids who may not have done anything wrong.

At an educational forum in Cherry Hill one night before the new curfew started, every parent we spoke with said they had no problem with it.

UPDATE | 16 kids were picked up over the first weekend under Baltimore's new strict curfew law

"I see them out sometimes about 1 [a.m.], 1:30 in the morning when they need to be in the house,” said Shakesha Mack, a mother of five.

Her kids already have a curfew, imposed by mom -- 8:30 in the evening.

“We need to protect our kids and keep them safe,” she said.

Starting on Friday, Aug. 8 for children under 14 the nighttime curfew will be 9 p.m., all year long.

For children ages 14 to 16 during the school year the curfew will be 10 p.m. on school nights.

They will be able to stay out until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays during the school year, and every night during the summer.

“Baltimore police are not trained to be social workers. They're not trained to identify when a youth is in crisis or not," said Sonia Kumar, an attorney with the ACLU of Maryland.

There are exceptions to the curfew, such as a teen coming home from a job or an after school activity.

The ACLU remains concerned about negative interactions between young people and city police.

“The fact that you fall within an exception doesn't mean that you're not stopped in the first place. It's a question about what happens after you're stopped,” Kumar said.

Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said the city has had some version of a curfew for nearly 20 years, and curfew centers for offenders since 2008.

“I understand the concerns that the ACLU is raising but unfortunately their concerns don't marry up with the facts,” she said.

The mayor says the number of kids who violate the old curfew has been dropping -- the new curfew, she says, is aimed at doing more to keep them safe.

“I don't work in an abstract world. I work in reality,” she said.  “And in reality everyone knows that we have kids are falling through the cracks.”


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