Friday, February 29, 2008


This is a link to an interesting study finding no support for the use of curfews to deter or prevent crime.

However, this study is not "solid" as some of it's statistics involve correlations and not regression analyses. As those familiar with statistics should know, correlation does not prove causation.

But the information and findings are still relevent if consumed with some caveats.

More rigorous abstract, although I have not read the entire study:

Another decent looking study..

Links for your consideration

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Short update for clarification

Just to clarify, as I've gotten some questionrs regarding the status of this proposal...

This must have been under discussion for some time, as the task force has put together the proposal already.

Then, they sent out the proposal to all the municipalities in the county. As I understand it, all the municipalities must agree to this, because it is being presented as a county-wide curfew.

Perhaps our biggest area of impact could be contacting each of our individual municipalities directly and stating our objections. If we can make our community leaders understand our opposition, we should theoretically be able to stop this.

I am very concerned as well about the lack of adequate and accurate media coverage. Why would the papers ignore an important aspect of this proposal that would actually be a NEW law? Might they have an agenda?

I have written a letter to the YDR editor. I hope it is published in the next few days - I will link to it when it is online.

"Just charge them with something"

I've been thinking quite a bit about curfews this week, in addition to the research I've done to see what others have come up with regarding the efficacy of restricting movement around a community.

Why, when curfews clearly make no impact on arrests, overall crime, and truancy, do so many communities have them? From the data I have come across, over 200 communities across the nation have some sort of curfew laws.

Some comments in the press run along the lines of "No good can come of teenagers out in the streets at 1 AM." I would argue with that and can immediately think of the teenagers whose mission it is to serve the homeless in the cities around the country by handing out blankets and food. Sometimes this is done at night, when it is most needed.

But even if I agree that teens should be in their houses after a certain time, how does this decrease crime?

A person cannot be arrested unless they commit a crime (in America). A crime is determined by a set of laws that tell the citizens, "This is a crime, we as a community believe it is heinous/dangerous enough to deserve punishment."

Clearly, life threatening behaviors are going on in York City. Those responsible should be found, prosecuted, and punished.

When it becomes challenging to arrest the ones commiting crimes, I think the decision makers have the belief that if we lower the bar regarding what is considered criminal/illegal behavior, we can then arrest/prosecute people for a lesser crime. I suppose the hope is that scaring them with the legal process for a lesser crime will prevent them from commiting a more serious crime later on.

At least I THINK that must be the logic. I can't imagine what other rationale there would be.

Are curfews a variation on "If we bring them in, maybe we can find a charge so SOMETHING will stick?"

If groups are restricted more and more, then eventually more violations will happen. Then what? Too many restrictions diminishes the potency of law. If we are constantly told "No, no, no," people get frustrated and then complacent. If a truant is already a truant, what would they care about a curfew fine?

If freedom is to be limited, we NEED to see data showing that, in this case, fines for curfew violations have a specific and favorable impact on crime.

Which brings me to another point of contention - I fail to see exactly what goal the task force is attempting to reach. When implementing a plan, it is best to have the end in mind, a specific goal towards which to work. For instance, "We hope to see arrests decrease by X% as a result of instituting daytime curfews because that has been shown in the past."

Nowhere in the proposal is there any language regarding the specific indices the task force hopes to impact.

On truancy.....

If a teen is truant, that is all we need to know. The truants are theoretically easily identified.

If the schools fail to track their truants, allowing them to wander the streets, then the schools need to be held accountable.

My children's right to move about freely during the day should never be challenged or questioned.

If the schools fail to cope with truancy, the citizens of York who feel threatened by a group of teens on the streets can call the police, or they can call the school directly. Or they can call Child Protective Services and report suspected child neglect.

Truancy is a multi-faceted problem, requiring a multi-pronged approach to reduce. None of the published research data that I have found shows that curfews work.

There are researched-based programs that DO work. They strive to increase engagement with schools, increase familial support, and work to improve the belief in teens that they do have a bright and meaningful future ahead of them.

Let's help them get there by doing what we know works. Who will pay for this? We all already are.

We can increase apprentice programs in the community by incentivizing businesses who agree to take on teens for training and education in a trade. Allow these businesses to pay teenage apprentices below minimum wage.

If we can increase teens' engagement with the businesses in their neighborhoods, they will feel more obligated to the functioning of the city.

YDR editorial opinion re: curfew

Notice the lack of mention about the proposed DAYTIME curfew. Why ignore it in the editorial? The wording of this editorial makes it seem "reasonable" to support this, yet the editorial ignores mention of NEW ordinances, not just standardizing existing ones...


No Need for Day Time Curfew

This blog is for the specific purpose of maintaining a dialogue regarding proposed legislation in York, PA.

The most current issue to discuss involves instituting a day time curfew for school aged children in York County. The intent of the proposed curfew is to reduce truancy and juvenile delinquency.

I am strongly opposed to this proposed ordinance. Mechanisms and procedures are already in place to address truancy issues. Adding a new catagory of illegality to our community will NOT reduce truancy.

Peer-reviewed research demonstrates the inefficacy of curfew programs when considering outcomes of arrests and calls for service (i.e. 911 calls). These studies looked at evening curfews - it might be easy to extrapolate this result to day time curfews, although the researcher in me knows full well I shouldn't do that.

Please limit comments to civil conversation.

Anita Marchesani