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Council nixes late-night curfew

Monday, October 2, 2017 by Elizabeth Pagano

After months of debate and deliberation, City Council put the final nail in the coffin of juvenile curfews in the city, voting unanimously to let the late-night curfew that had been in place for 27 years expire. This time around, the move had the support of the Austin Police Department in addition to most of the public speakers. Mayor Steve Adler thanked Interim Police Chief Brian Manley for his willingness to revise his opinion. Manley explained that in reviewing recent data, he saw that since the first set of changes happened in June, the 14 incidents involving juveniles that could have been covered by the curfew ordinance had things going on other than just a curfew violation, giving him peace of mind that removing the ordinance would not impact their ability to enforce the law. However, he added, “If I think it is getting to the point to where we’re seeing significant problems and the curfew would assist, then I stand ready to come back before you and have that conversation.” Many of those who spoke against the curfew pointed out the racial inequities inherent in such laws, including Council Member Greg Casar. “It’s no secret we incarcerate more folks in this country than anywhere else in the world. I think that’s just an important thing for us to acknowledge as we take this vote. I don’t think it makes us any safer,” he said. “It’s a real crisis happening in our midst all the time and I think it takes every level of government addressing that issue for us to do something about it. From arrest all the way to judgment. And so I’m glad that we’re taking this one small step and one critical way to do that work is to look at the school to prison pipeline and juvenile justice issues.”

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