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In a unanimous vote, the Austin City Council ended the city's late-night curfew for minors last night.
The ordinance, which made it a Class C misdemeanor for anyone under 17 to be out in public from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., was on the books for 27 years.
The Austin Police Department's interim Chief Brian Manley favored the decision, but told the council his department will be monitoring how ending the curfew affects crime at night.
“What we will do is as we go forward is to ensure that we don’t see an increase in either juvenile crime or juvenile victimization,” he said. “We’re going to be looking at the statistics monthly.”
The ordinance was initially drafted to deter juvenile crime, but those who opposed the measure said it disproportionally affected black and Latino youth.
Manley said he would consider asking Council to reinstate the curfew, if data show a spike in crime. The interim chief and the police department initially questioned the rollback of both the nighttime and a daytime curfew, which was nixed in June.
Ellen Stone, director of research at Texas Appleseed, told the Austin City Council that the ordinance was a barrier to success for some students and that the ban didn’t accomplish its stated goal – to prevent juvenile crime.
“Data show that the ordinance doesn’t decrease juvenile crime. And, more importantly, it doesn’t decrease youth victimization. It doesn’t keep our kids safe,” she said. “Instead it does just the opposite. The curfew unnecessarily pushes our kids into the justice system.”
Stone also pointed out that few students were present during the late-night debate over eliminating the curfew, because they would have been violating the ordinance.
The curfew officially ends Sunday night.