Newark Reinstates 11 PM Curfew Amid Rise in Youth Crime

Bucharest, Romania - March 23, 2020: Police check out drivers and their papers during the curfew in the streets of Bucharest amid the spread of the COVID-19.

Newark officials have faced concerns over the rise in violent crime, particularly among teenagers who are both involved in the crimes and at risk of becoming victims. To combat this issue, the city has implemented an overnight curfew that was established in 1992 but had been mostly ignored. The rules prohibit unsupervised youths from going beyond 100 yards from home between 11 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. and will be applied during weeknights once summer break begins. 

Mayor Ras J. Baraka, a Democrat running for governor next year, has expressed concern over residents encountering young people on the streets late at night.

Newark Public Safety Collaborative reports that the city has seen a 13% rise in violent crime through May 15 compared to last year. Overall, property crime rates have decreased, but there has been a significant rise in theft from cars, with a 46% increase. Two notable recent crimes involved young victims, although they did not occur during the late hours.

Curfews for young people, aimed at preventing crime, have been in place since the late 1800s. According to the National Youth Rights Association, there are currently 400 laws in effect across the country. Last year, Baltimore and several other cities or counties implemented or reintroduced them. Progress has been sluggish in Newark, with three individuals caught during the initial weekend of the curfew.

Lakeesha Eure, Newark’s deputy mayor for public safety, stated that the way they enforce the curfew has changed significantly compared to decades ago. First-time offenders are either escorted home or taken to the city’s Re-Engagement Center, which was recently established to help young individuals find educational and employment prospects. Repeat offenders are immediately taken to the Re-Engagement Center, and teens and their families are referred to the state’s Office of Child Protection and Permanency if they commit three or more violations.

Some adults, including Sarah Fajardo, the policy director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, argue that the curfew unfairly singles out young people based on their age rather than their actions. The Ironbound Community Corporation, a local social services group, also opposes the curfew for similar reasons.

There is a considerable amount of discussion surrounding the effectiveness of implementing night curfews to combat criminal activity.