CHANGES WERE made to the latest city curfew bill yesterday, following concerns about steeper fines, tougher enforcement and children's civil rights.
City Council gave committee-level approval to the bill, introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown on behalf of the Nutter administration. The proposal would impose a $75 fine for a violation, up from $25. The maximum penalty would be $500.
The changes would give parents 30 days instead of 10 to pay the $75 fine after receiving a notice that their child violated curfew. The curfew would expire in December 2013 so that the administration could measure its effectiveness - a request made by Council, Reynolds Brown said.
The bill follows a temporary curfew implemented to address acts of violence committed by roving groups of young people.
Everett Gillison, deputy mayor for public safety, said that since January, 10,205 youths have been stopped for violating curfew and 209 have been cited.
"What we're trying to do is get parents to take responsibility," Gillison said. "Learning good behavior and responsibility begins at home."
Mary Catherine Roper, staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, said the bill would punish every teen in the city, adding it would be a step backward since the ACLU reached a settlement with the city on its stop-and-frisk policy.
"Increasing the number of police stops of youth who are not engaged in any illegal activity not only damages the relationship between police and youth in the communities but also diverts policing resources from actual crime," Roper said. She said that if passed, the bill would invite litigation.
The curfew would be 8 p.m. for children 13 and younger, 9 p.m. for those ages 14 and 15, and 10 p.m. for those 16 and 17. The curfew lasts until 6 a.m. for all public places unless the child is accompanied by a parent, running an errand or working. During the summer the curfew would be an hour later. Additionally, if parents fail to retrieve their children within a reasonable time, police would contact the Department of Human Services to initiate an investigation.