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Council hopes to decriminalize curfew violations

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 by Lisa Dreher

City Council is again taking aim at the current city ordinance that sets a curfew for Austin’s kids. Currently, minors can carry a Class C misdemeanor, the lowest-level criminal offense, on their record if they break the city’s curfew, which prohibits them from being outside from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Most Council members are hoping to decriminalize the offense and prevent youth from entering the criminal justice pipeline. Council must either renew or change the 1990 ordinance on Thursday before it expires on June 18. Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said 2,123 curfew citations were issued over the last three fiscal periods, with only 85 percent being a first-time offense and 85 minors convicted. Council Member Ora Houston said youth who have been expelled or are not in school are more likely to stay out and break the curfew, and intervention programs to educate both parents and children are better than throwing them into the system.

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