Lowell Curfew, should Police act as chauffeurs for Juveniles? Is $50 going to deter anyone?

On The City Council Agenda for next week, the Mayor (aside from again going after items connected to Workers Comp) has this motion.

M. Elliott – Req. City Mgr. have the LPD strictly enforce the Curfew Ordinance.

Now I did recall the City passing a strong Curfew Ordinance but I also recall the City losing a challenge in Court to the ruling. The Ordinance on the City of Lowell Website seems to be unenforceable, at least the criminal aspect.

Apparently the Mayor is so busy going after Worker’s Compensation Issues (keeps the rumor alive he’s mad because a friend/supporter is being forced back to work ) that maybe he forgot Lowell lost a Court Case. The result is at most Police can drive “youths” home or fine them $50

Is that what we want our officers focusing on? If you google Lowell Curfew Ordinance you find these headlines and stories:

MASSACHUSETTS LAW IMPOSING YOUTH CURFEWS UNCONSTITUTIONAL

Striking down a city ordinance that I am sure was well-meaning and not malignant in its intent, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) yesterday ruled unconstitutional a city of Lowell ordinance making it a crime of youths under the age of 17 to be on city streets after 11:00 PM unless accompanied by an adult.
This case was a classic civil liberties challenge to government oversight of public conduct that, in itself, is benign. The municipal ordinance was passed by the city of Lowell in 1994, after that city was wracked by years of youthful violence and youth gang activity.

Mass. high court rejects teen curfew’s criminal penalties

BOSTON — The state’s highest court has struck down criminal punishments for teens who violate the city of Lowell’s curfew, ruling that the penalties unconstitutionally infringe on the teens’ fundamental right of free movement.

The Supreme Judicial Court ruled 7-0 in Commonweath v. Weston that the criminal sanctions “contradict well-established goals of rehabilitating, not incarcerating, juvenile offenders.”

The Sept. 25 ruling came in the case of two youths who were arrested for violating a curfew Lowell enacted in 1994 as the city struggled with an increase in gang violence, including a fatal baseball-bat attack on a 16-year-old boy in a city park. The curfew prohibits teens under 17 from being out between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.

Lowell is one of more than 200 cities and towns across the country that passed curfews in the 1990s. In Massachusetts, Chicopee, Lynn and North Adams are among the communities with curfews.

The criminal sanctions included in Lowell’s curfew include a $300 fine and a possible court finding of delinquency, which allows judges to commit minors to state custody until they reach 18.

The court found that the criminal prosecution of a minor, with the potential for state commitment, “is an extraordinary and unnecessary response.”

So should the Lowell Police really spend their night chauffeuring minors home? Does anyone really think that a majority of the late night issues are caused by kids 17 and under?

At the risk of getting called a negative ninnie by WCAP’s Great Defender, isn’t this motion just a political grandstand to generate positive press while in reality a waste of time for this Council and the Lowell Police?

Does anyone think that 15, 16, 17 year old kids out after 11:00 have parents who really care what the Mayor or Councilors think? Does he really think a parent or a juvenile who is out after 11:00 will all of a sudden change because he’s trying to act tough and take a stand?

Really this is political posturing at its worse. It’s a joke and a waste of city time and resources.

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