Chicago alderman propose changes to city curfew

July 7, 2011

There could be another change on the way for Chicago's curfew -- only this time, for kids under 12 years old. Three Chicago alderman are sponsoring an ordinance that would attempt to keep younger children indoors after 8:30 pm during the week, and after 9:00 on the weekends.

15th Ward Alderman Toni Foulkes, a sponsor of the legislation, said it doesn't make sense to allow eight-year-olds to be on the streets as late as 17-year-olds.

"If your children are at home on a school night at 8:00 in the summer time, it's getting dark -- in the winter time, its very dark at 8:30 -- so children need to be, definitely, they need to be in the house," Foulkes said.

The other two co-sponsors are 8th Ward Alderman Michelle Harris and 18th Ward Alderman Lona Lane. The ordinance keeps the curfew the same for those between 12 and 17: 10:00 pm on weekdays, and 11:00 pm on weekends. As of now, this curfew applies to all minors.

The Chicago Police Department released a statement that gave their support of the proposal, but did not mention anything about enforcement.

Yet critics of the curfews say law enforcement is not the best way to keep kids off the street. According to Dr. Patricia Campie, director of the National Center for Juvenile Justice, enforcing curfews can sometimes do more harm than good.

"It's just using law enforcement to solve issues of parenting, to solve issues of kids not having enough resources in their neighborhoods or to solve issues of schools not being able to keep kids engaged in the class -- there's no evidence in the research that supports that practice," Campie said. "There are unintended bad consequences of labeling, where kids feel like they've done something wrong. And there are consequences when their neighbors and their peers see them get picked up in a police car and think oh, there goes a bad kid -- those things follow a kid around for the rest of their life."

Not every major city has a curfew set for minors. Boston only sets curfews for juveniles on probation, and New York City doesn't have one at all. For those that do have curfews, the times vary per city. Detroit law varies the curfew time based on the season: for those 15 and under, the curfew is 8:00 pm during standard time and 10:00 pm during daylight savings. Sixteen and 17-year-olds in Detroit have to be inside by 10:00 pm during standard time and 11:00 pm during daylight savings. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, all minors have to be inside by 10:00 pm, no matter what time of year.

If the changes are approved at the next Chicago city council meeting, the punishments will still remain the same as they are now. Parents can be fined up to $500 if their child stays out too late.

 

Correction: A previous version of this post misidentified the chronology of the proposed curfew times. The post has been corrected.