When the Declaration of Independence was written over 200 years ago we called ourselves free. But African-Americans stood helpless in the shackles of slavery. When Abraham Lincoln signed the emancipation proclamation, again we called ourselves free. But women were barred from the voting booths and belittled in the shadows of men. African-Americans and women now stand equal on the steps of liberty, but is the struggle for justice over? The answer is no.
A group that has so long been ignored must now take the foreground in the seemingly endless struggle for equality; that group is children. But as Rosa Parks and her single act of defiance so deftly proves, it is simple acts that will win this war. The first battle will attack curfew restrictions. Laws that are in place in most cities. Laws that jail children in their own homes. And violate their most basic rights.
A curfew on the minors of America is ineffective and unconstitutional. Curfew laws are ineffective in both preventing crime and utilizing police resources. Officer Tom Dwyer a sergeant in the Sacramento police department believes otherwise, “It is an effective crime prevention tool.” But if in fact curfews are effective crime fighting tools why then are they not in place on all age groups. The only logical conclusion one could draw from this type of blatant prejudice is that it is only minors who commit crimes.
Obviously minors are not the only age group committing crimes. Officer Dwyer’s opinion is not shared by all those employed in Law enforcement, especially not by Bernard C. Parks who is the police chief of the entire Los Angeles area, in a statement to the LA board of safety Parks said, “Curfews have not greatly impacted the number of violent crimes or the people who become victims of crimes.” The reality is that curfew laws are not based on any justifiable law enforcement technique but instead they unfairly single out a particular age group because of a perennial stereotype against children and adolescence in general.
|One does not have to sit on the Supreme Court to understand that literally holding a person in their own home against their will is a violation of all the ideals that make our country great.|
Not only are curfew laws ineffective but they are also unconstitutional. In our society heavy consideration is placed on the rights of the individual. The question is do these same rights apply to the youth of our society. In order to determine this, one must look to the backbone of our government, the constitution.
The 14th amendment reads, “All persons born or naturalized in the u.s. and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law, which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens in the United States. Nor shall any state deprive a person of life liberty or the pursuit of happiness. Nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction equal protection of the laws.”
The 14th Amendment clearly defines anyone born in the United States a citizen. Meaning that being under the age of 18 does not bar individuals rights as written in the constitution. One does not have to sit on the Supreme Court to understand that literally holding a person in their own home against their will is a violation of all the ideals that make our country great.
Curfew laws further violate the 14th Amendment by not granting equal protection of all laws. The 14th amendment was originally written in 1866 so that states could not pass laws that affect some citizens and not others. Such as laws forbidding blacks to enter public schools or dine in certain restaurants.
Curfew laws are reminiscent of these dark days in our country, days that were filled with hate and injustice. Prohibiting the rights of minors is taking a giant step backwards in equality and liberty and at the same time doing little to nothing in the fight against crime.