Crime and Courts

Prince George's to Enforce Teen Curfew Amid Spike in Violent Crime

More than 400 children have been arrested in Prince George's County, Maryland, so far this year, authorities say

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Prince George's County police will soon enforce a curfew for minors due to a spike in violent crimes among teens in the Maryland county, authorities announced Monday.

County Executive Angela Alsobrooks led a news conference Monday in which she announced that teens under 17 must be home between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and between 11:59 p.m. and 5 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

So far this year, Prince George's County police have arrested "an eye-popping" 430 juveniles, Alsobrooks said. More than 80 of those 430 kids were arrested for carjackings, while 55 of them had prior offenses and 34 had prior gun or violent crimes offenses, she said.

In addition, Alsobrooks said August was the single deadliest month in Prince George's County's history.

"It ought to be clear to everyone that something is not working," Alsobrooks said. "We are arresting and rearresting the same children and adults who are committing crimes in our community."

"Only so long can you have police going through a system where they continually arrest and bring people back round in a circle to release to further victimize residents of our county,” Prince George's County Police Chief Malik Aziz said at the news conference.

News4's Jackie Bensen reports.

Alsobrooks said that half of the 84 juveniles arrested this year for carjackings were under the age of 15.

In total, there have been more than 350 carjackings this year in the county, which is a 52% increase over last year, according to Alsobrooks. In 2019, there were 91 total carjackings, she said.

"We're finding that each year, not only do we have more carjackings, but we're also arresting more juveniles," Alsobrooks said. "So it's clear the problem is what happens after the arrests, or, in our case, what doesn't happen."

Alsobrooks said the initiatives and programs the county has held to combat teen violence have helped but that government programs can only go so far.

"Today, I am going to just put it very bluntly: Somebody has got to take responsibility for these armed and dangerous children, and it is not just the police and not just the government," she said, adding that no summer job or government program is going to be able to stop the children who are out at 3 and 4 a.m. committing crimes.

"These kids don't just need a hug. They also need to be held accountable. I know this isn't the popular thing to say, but the truth of the matter is, it's a fair question: Where are their parents? Where are the aunties, where are the uncles and other family members who are responsible for them?" Alsobrooks said.

Alsobrooks said she is seeking an emergency meeting with the Department of Juvenile Services and called on the courts and prosecutor's office to release information about pending cases and dispositions to the public.

"To some of you judges who are letting these individuals out, you’re going to have to deal with this county council because we don’t want you presiding over those kind of cases that are putting perpetrators on the street, that are increasing the crime in our community," Prince George's County Council Chair Calvin Hawkins said.

Prince George's County State's Attorney Aisha Braveboy responded to the news conference later Monday and said that her office holds people accountable for serious crimes.

“Sometimes we disagree and we are upset with the decision of those in the justice system, but our system of justice only works if we all respect everyone’s role and we understand the law,” she said.

The teen curfew will begin this weekend and take effect for at least 30 days.

A warning will be issued to parents and guardians of children the first time they violate curfew, and subsequent violations will result in fines and citations, officials said.

Officials acknowledged that the curfew will put an additional strain on police and called for parents, social service providers and other sectors of the community to be actively involved.

"There is a whole culture of fearlessness that is developing because the kids believe that nothing will happen to them,” Alsobrooks said.

While county leaders hope the curfew will make a difference, past studies question its effectiveness.

In 2003, the Department of Justice looked at a Prince George's County youth curfew law. The study found there was little evidence that a curfew reduced arrests or calls for help during curfew hours and no “overwhelming evidence either in support of or against the curfew.”

A separate Washington Post study in 2000 found citations for curfew violations were disproportionately given to Black youths.

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