Civil Liberties

Stay Indoors, Kids! Baltimore's Crazy Curfew Will Cost Parents $500 a Pop

What a nuisance (the law, not the kids).


Tup Wanders / Flickr

Be warned, Baltimore-area kids: If you venture outside at night, you will be picked up by police—and your parents will have to choose between paying a $500 fine or attending parental guidance classes administered by the city.

It's all part of the city's new curfew law, the strictest in the nation, which takes effect next month, according to CBS Baltimore:

With the new law, teens under 14 years old have to be off the streets by 9 p.m. Those 14 to 16 years of age can stay out no later than 10 during the week and no later than 11 on the weekends and during the summer.

The law has the support of Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, who apparently believes the city's youth are out of control. Rawlings-Blake is hosting a forum on the subject tonight, and hopes to clear up "misconceptions" about what the law entails. The curfew will help the city identify parents who need help from the city raising their kids properly, she said. Whether it will actually succeed in keeping troublesome kids off the streets is another matter—but plenty of residents doubt it.

Civil libertarians have also raised obvious concerns. From The New York Times:

Critics fear that the curfew gives officers another reason to randomly stop youths, many of whom already mistrust the police, and ask anyone who looks young for identification.

"I'm not sure ultimately if the police should be riding around looking for children while they're still looking out the other eye for criminal activity," said Tessa Hill-Aston, the president of the Baltimore branch of the N.A.A.C.P.

Rawlings-Blake isn't particularly impressed by these concerns. She previously told skeptics of the law to "go live on a farm somewhere"—as if the expanding reach of the nanny/police state was something that only yokels would oppose.

As Reason's Jesse Walker wrote back in May, such a law is likely to bring innocent kids—as well as kids who could use some help—into constant conflict with the police. That can't be a good thing.

What a nuisance (the law, not the kids).