Controversy Surrounds Prince George's County Youth Curfew

Curfew goes into effect Friday at midnight

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Prince George's County begins its enforcement of a teen curfew Friday at midnight in response to the county's rising crime rate, particularly among young people.

“Somebody has got to take responsibility for these armed and dangerous children, and it is not just the police and not just the government,” County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said Monday.

As Alsobrooks moved to enforce a juvenile curfew, some community activists questioned if it will curb the rise in juvenile crime.

“We know carjackings are not necessarily happening after 10 p.m.,” said Tamara McKinney of Concerned Citizens for Bail Reform.

Representatives of various county community groups are concerned.

“How many innocent young people will be caught up in the crossfire of this new initiative?” asked Dawn Dalton of The Prince George’s County Coalition for Police Accountability.

“They point to, like, maybe 55 youth that they have encountered in the system that have been, like, repeat offenders, have been out doing carjackings and things, so let’s focus on giving those families the resources and things they need,” said Beverly John of The Prince George’s County Coalition for Police Accountability.

“We have not determined why these children are out there and we’re labeling it bad parenting,” said Sherman Hardy of Prince Georgians for Civic Engagement. “I think that's very disrespectful and reminiscent, you know, of the welfare queens.”

The ACLU of Maryland opposes the curfew, saying in a statement, “Unnecessary police interactions and exposure to the Department of Social Services harms Black and brown children."

Maryland's public defender's office also objects, saying, "Curfews do not make anyone safer or address any underlying societal problems, which are the true root of crime."

“Will this work? We want to give it time,” said Maryland state Sen. Paul Pinsky, D-Prince George's County. “We'll see.”

He said something must be done to deal with the rise in juvenile crime.

“I’m not sure if it's going to be successful,” he said. “I'm open to anything at this point. The people of the county want to be safe.”

Alsobrooks fired back at critics of the policy in a tweet Wednesday that said, in part, “While there are some who disagree with a 30-day curfew, I am responding to the residents of Prince George’s County who have asked what more can be done to protect their children.”

Maryland state Del. Alonzo Washington, D-Prince George’s County, says curfews may be a first step but should not be the last.

“Curfews are great, but it's not enough to really get the job done, and we want to make sure the job gets done by providing all the resources available,” he said.

Enforcement of the teen curfew is expected to last for 30 days.

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