Houston has had a Juvenile Curfew in place since 1991 and updated May 9, 2007. On Wednesday, July 10, 2019, there will be public testimony to consider whether the ordinance will stay in place.
So, does it matter?
The short answer – yes. Of course, you should care about any infringement upon your family’s personal liberty. And, moving about in public spaces without repercussion is personal liberty.
The realistic answer – probably not. If the juvenile curfew has not affected you or your family it probably will continue to be a non-issue and there are certainly bigger issues to tackle.
However, we are in summer and school-age children are more likely to be out during these hours and criminalizing their presence is a problem. So, even if this does not usually affect you – it could.
Who Does This Affect?
Anyone under 17 and their parents can be fined up to $500 for violation of the juvenile curfew. The curfew hours run from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 11 p.m. to 6 a.m, on school days and nights (midnight to 6 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays).
Homeschooling families are exempt from the curfew but still may be subject to being stopped, detained, and/ or fined. After which, they will have to go to court to have the citation overturned.
Since the ordinance began citations have steadily dropped. In 2018 only 137 citations were issued.
What is Being Proposed?
- Maximum fine of $500
- HPD encourages it’s officers to use discretion when issuing citations and taking minors in to custody for curfew violations. It’s policy allows them to instead bring violators home or back to school.
- Lowering or eliminating the maximum fine
- Citation cases to be heard in “teen court”
- The mayor does not want or expect to eliminate the curfew
What Can You Do?
Houston City Council meetings are open to the public and any citizen may speak for up to three-minutes (call the City Secretary’s Office to reserve a time, 832-393-1100). If you are passionate about this speak up. They are expected to discuss this during the Wednesday, July 10, 2019 meeting that begins at 9 a.m.
Also, The Texas Homeschool Coalition, a statewide advocacy group for homeschooling and family rights, is vehemently opposed to juvenile curfews as it places the burden of proof upon families. If you are like minded and would like to make your voice heard they have an extensive list of resources and contacts that will be of help.