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Baltimore Tightens Juvenile Curfews

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Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ)– The Baltimore City Council votes to toughen up curfews for Baltimore’s youth. City leaders say it will take kids out of harm’s way.  But others argue it’s too strict for young people and their parents.

Christie Ileto has more on the controversial policy that’s become reality.

One of the toughest youth curfew bills in the country is days from being signed into law.

And for Ramone Garcia, Monday means his summer just got sour.

“It’s like (hurtful) because I like to play outside and be free, so I guess I have to be home. That sucks,” he said.

Despite protests, Baltimore City Council passed a bill 11-2 Monday evening that will require kids under 14 to be home by 9 p.m., those between 14 and 16 inside by 10 p.m. on weeknights and 11 p.m. on weekends.

“I’m not willing to gamble on the lives of our children,” said Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake.

City officials say the measure will protect teens.

But for 15-year-old Nathan Rhodes, this new city curfew isn’t anything different from his father’s curfew.

“I’m usually playing basketball or going home doing homework,” he said.

In addition to tougher curfew laws, city officials are planning to open nine youth connection centers– similar to the curfew center already in place, except they’d be open 24 hours a day.

“The goal is not to arrest young people or put them in the juvenile justice system, but to connect young people to services that they need,” said Angela Johnose, criminal justice director.

Critics have long argued this measure will create more problems than it solves.

“They have not had a discussion with the communities. They have not come up with a plan on what exactly is going to be done,” said Marvin “Doc” Cheatham, opponent.

“I think they’re punishing people for things that others do,” said Jazmin Watts, 13-year-old.

Last year, dozens of teens tore through a 7-Eleven in upper Fells Point. That’s behavior city leaders hope this new curfew will curb.

The bill will go into effect 60 days after its signed by the mayor, which is just before the new school year starts.

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