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Baltimore Poised To Enact Strict Youth Curfew

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Bui Linh 370x278 XL (2) Linh Bui
Linh Bui joined WJZ Eyewitness News in July 2013 as a weekend anchor...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore could soon have one of the toughest curfews in the country. City Council votes on a bill Monday. Supporters say it will protect teens.

But, as Linh Bui explains, opponents say it will lead to other problems.

Right now in Baltimore, the curfew for teens is 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends. But if the bill passes, kids will have to be indoors much sooner.

City leaders want to stop bad behavior. Last year, dozens of teens tore through a 7-Eleven in upper Fells Point.

“Protect the young kids, but also connect the most vulnerable children and their families to services that they need,” said Brandon Scott, Baltimore City Council.

Scott is sponsoring a bill to expand the curfew and City Council votes on Monday.

Children under the age of 14 would need to be home by 9 p.m. year round. Fourteen and 16-year-olds would have a curfew of 10 p.m. on weeknights during the school year and 11 p.m. on weekends. There would also be a daytime curfew during school hours.

“It creates a whole other host of unintended consequences,” said Sonia Kumar, ACLU Maryland.

Kumar says the curfew is too severe and does not help children. Advocacy groups want the city to instead invest in social programs, like opening more recreation centers.

“Encourage city officials to step back, define the problem and what it is they’re trying to solve, look at research and use the expertise and resources that we already have in the city,” said Kumar.

Opponents also say the bill will cause problems between officers and teens, like unnecessary police stops. Council member Scott disagrees.

“Not all contact with public safety officials has to be negative. And if we’re going to change the culture in Baltimore over how police and our young people interact, we can only do that if they interact,” he said.

If council approves the bill, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says she will sign it into law.

Under the proposal, if a child is caught violating curfew, the family can attend counseling to have the citation wiped off their record.

The mayor plans to open year-round connection centers, providing resources for those who violate curfew.

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