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Parents Could Face Fine When City’s Youth Curfew Takes Effect

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Ritchie Rochelle 175x131 L Rochelle Ritchie
Rochelle Ritchie joined WJZ Eyewitness News in June 2012. Prio...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Baltimore City is making some changes when it comes to the city’s youth curfew. They will enforce some major penalties on parents whose children are caught out past the deadline.

Rochelle Ritchie explains the new rules and why some say it’s not effective.

Two youth centers across Baltimore City are expected to open early next month in preparation for a new curfew that will take effect on August 8.

“I think it’s necessary that the children are supervised,” said parent Jack Elam.

The new law requires children under 14 to be home by 9 p.m. year round. Teens 14-16 have to be in by 10 p.m. on school nights and 11 p.m. on weekends and over the summer.

If they are caught on the streets by police after curfew, they will be taken to one of the youth centers.

“For every child that is out without supervision, there is a different story. And a lot of parents are doing the best that they can and need additional resources,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

Parents who have children caught out past the curfew could face hefty fines between $30 to $500, but that fee could be waived if they sign up for parenting classes.

“Our goal isn’t to ostracize or to embarrass these parents, it is to get them the help they need so they can have healthy families,” the mayor said.

But not everyone is on board with the curfew. Representatives with the ACLU say the new curfew builds a negative relationship between youth and police.

“There are far better ways for us to serve young people without using police as a point of contact for them, especially given the track record in our city of what those interactions often turn into,” said Sonia Kaumar, ACLU.

But the mayor strongly disagrees.

“It would have been nice had they had that conversation and helped the council craft the legislation that would have dealt with concerns, but they didn’t,” Mayor Rawlings-Blake said.

Some question if the plan will be effective, but they say it’s a start.

“Some of them I have seen as young as seven or eight years old that are unsupervised,” Elam said.

The centers will open in just a few weeks on August 1, but will only run on weekend nights for now.

The two centers set to open are the Lillian Jones and Collington Square recreation centers.

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