Dallas votes to reinstate controversial teen curfew

Dallas city council members voted to reinstate the controversial juvenile curfew. However, the new curfew comes with a dramatically reduced fine.

The new curfew, which takes effect Monday, reduces the fine from $500 to $50. It also requires two prior warnings about the curfew before issuing the fine.

During a meeting Wednesday, city council members brought up the motion to reconsider the juvenile curfew ordinance.

Like the old curfew, the new compromise ordinance proposed by Councilman Adam McGough prohibits kids 16 and under from being out between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. during the week and midnight and 6 a.m. on the weekend without a valid reason, such as a job.

Councilman Omar Narvaez has been an outspoken opponent of the ordinance. He says it unfairly targets minorities.

While the two Latino council members voted against the curfew, all of the council's African-American council members voted in favor of it.

“Stories and data that says why curfew is needed; I've only heard very few compared to the mounds of stories and data that says we don't need it,” Narvaez said.

“Their whole notion for this curfew is that we do care about our youth,” said Councilwoman Carolyn King Arnold.

“You hear this narrative that any kid who walks the streets will get picked up and arrested,” McGough said. “And it is absolutely false.”

If a teen has a reason to be out past curfew, such as a job or errand directed by a parent, they will not be cited.

Dallas’ curfew expired in January. The 1991 ordinance prohibited children under the age of 16 from going outside without an adult after 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. On the weekends, teens were not allowed out past midnight.

Over the weekend, the Dallas NCAAP Youth Council held a rally against any sort of curfew. Members said statistics show it really was not protecting youth or reducing crime in Dallas. Instead, they say it was targeting minorities.

“It is an unfortunate pathway for innocent youth to enter the criminal system sooner, not encourage high school completion, college acceptance, or joining the workforce,” said Corinne Dorsey, Dallas NAACP Youth Council president.

The compromise ordinance also directs the city manager to use $500,000 to allow kids free access to park and recreation facilities.

A big complaint from the community during meetings about the curfew has been that there is a greater need for activities for kids in Dallas.

Instead of paying the $50 fine, teens will also be able to do community service or get counseling.