Correction to This Article
A July 20 article incorrectly stated that the District's emergency curfew law applies to youths younger than 18. The law, like an earlier curfew law in the city, covers those younger than 17.
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Council Approves Earlier Curfew

Johonna McCants speaks at a news conference held by the Justice 4 D.C. Youth Coalition to oppose some anti-crime measures that target youths.
Johonna McCants speaks at a news conference held by the Justice 4 D.C. Youth Coalition to oppose some anti-crime measures that target youths. (By James A. Parcell -- The Washington Post)

"It does work, because it does keep a lot of kids indoors," Bratton said. "It reduces the number of players you have to keep track of, but it's difficult to enforce."

In the District, police officers have taken about 2,000 juveniles off the street for curfew violations this year, said Lillian Overton, commander of the police department's youth division.

When the youths are picked up, they are taken to one of two curfew centers, which have rows of chairs as in a doctor's waiting room.

Parents are called by police, and if they do not pick up their children by 6 a.m., the youths are taken to the D.C. government's Child and Family Services Agency. Cases can be referred to the attorney general's office, which decides whether to open a neglect investigation. Teenagers and ACLU members, wearing T-shirts that read, "Real Crimefighting. Not Abuse of Power," packed the council chambers at the John A. Wilson Building.

"It's not right. Young people need more time than that [10 p.m.]," said Tawanda Davis, 17, a member of Facilitating Leadership in Youth, a group for teenagers in Southeast. "We've got school. We've got after-school activities. At night, that's the only time we have," she said.

Teenagers also objected to the mandatory sharing of juvenile records with police, saying that it is police harassment.

Under the bill, family court is required to report the release of juveniles with multiple and violent offenses and their location within 48 hours to the police. Family court now provides records on a case-by-case basis when requested by police.

Ramsey said he wants the information because he thinks it will help detectives solve cases and reduce crime. He wants information on juveniles who have committed three or more violent crimes.

"If they've been arrested seven, eight times for armed robbery, why wouldn't we take a look to see if they're responsible?" Ramsey said.

Under the emergency crime bill, judges in all D.C. courts also have discretion to deny bail and detain adults and juveniles charged with violent robbery.

And starting this week, the city will begin installing surveillance cameras in residential areas for the first time. The cameras will be recording 24 hours a day, but police will not monitor them all the time. Other cities that have used them have found them to be effective.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington-based group that opposes surveillance cameras, disputes the success rate, saying street lighting and more officers on the street are more effective.

The council voted unanimously to provide $8 million to pay overtime to put 300 more officers on the streets for the next six weeks. That measure did not need council approval, but the mayor asked for a vote of the "sense of the council."


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