Abolish juvenile curfews to make cities safer

Jennifer L. Doleac writes in the Brookings Institute’s website an account of her research findings regarding the effect of juvenile curfew laws on urban crime. She claims that repealing juvenile curfew laws is close to a “free lunch” for reducing urban firearm crime. I quote two paragraphs in which she lays out her conclusions:

Our study suggests that juvenile curfews increase gun violence, and therefore impose a cost on society by decreasing public safety. This doesn’t mean that curfews don’t have some positive effects. It’s possible that juvenile curfews reduce other types of crime (for example, minor offenses such as vandalism) that might be uncorrelated with gun violence. To the extent that those types of offenses are a concern, and if they are reduced more than gun violence is increased, local jurisdictions might find juvenile curfews worthwhile.

But to be clear, those are all “ifs”—there is currently no convincing evidence that curfews have such beneficial effects. Absent such evidence, cities should consider ending their juvenile curfews. There are simply too many potential costs associated with curfew policies—in terms of public safety, community trust, and limiting juveniles’ and parents’ choices. Without benefits to justify those costs, there’s no reason to keep juvenile curfews on the books.

It seems to me that she has made a compelling case.

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