The news: In July, the Chicago City Council approved a stricter curfew requiring unsupervised minors aged 12 and younger to be in their homes by 8:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and by 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.
Behind the news: A Chicago Reporter analysis of homicide data shows that the new curfew, even if it had been implemented, would not have protected most of the 53 homicide victims who were aged 12 or younger and killed between Jan. 1, 2008, and Aug. 7, 2011, when Arianna Gibson, 6, was killed by gunfire inside the living room of her grandmother’s Englewood home.
Just two of the 53 victims were outdoors and violating curfew when they were killed, according to the Reporter’s analysis. Like Gibson, most of the victims whose locations were known—nearly 84 percent—were indoors, and many were killed at times that would not be in violation of the new curfew.
Some Chicago City Council members noted studies from other cities that showed a decline in crimes against youth and youth arrests after passing stricter curfew laws.
But there are questions about whether the Chicago Police Department can enforce curfew laws more vigorously than it has in the past.
The department is currently understaffed, and it has recorded declining curfew arrests in the past few years. This year, the department recorded 8,398 curfew arrests from January through June, on pace to log 16,796 in 2011. That would be a 42 percent decline from the 29,080 curfew arrests the department recorded in 2006.
Phillip Jackson, executive director of The Black Star Project, said the Chicago City Council can’t legislate good parenting nor can it rely on police to enforce good parenting. Instead, he suggested that the city put resources into helping parents deal with problems their children are having with education, truancy, delinquency, nutrition and other areas.
“One of the most important and ignored infrastructures is parenting,” Jackson said. “We really don’t invest a thing in parenting.”