Teens in a violence-torn Maryland county are banned from the streets between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. weekdays in a bid to curb skyrocketing juvenile delinquency rates.
Authorities in Prince George’s County – which includes eastern Washington DC and surrounding suburbs – announced that people under the age of 17 will be forced to remain in their homes at night during a 30-day “cooling off” period.
This means parents could be fined up to $250 for repeated violations and children could be handed over to the Department of Social Services, it was announced Monday.
The tough measures come after the county marked its deadliest month in decades, with 24 homicides investigated by police in August alone.
Announcing the rules, Chief Executive Angela Alsobrooks said: “I’m just going to be very blunt: someone has to take responsibility for these armed and dangerous children. And it’s not just the police and it’s not just the government.
“We have children who are out and about in our communities at 3 and 4 a.m. committing these crimes. No vacation job or government program will help.’
Angela Alsobrooks, Chief Executive of Prince George’s County, can be seen on Monday announcing the curfew for those under the age of 17
The youth curfew is based on existing law and was last introduced in 1995, but Alsobrooks said current circumstances warranted a return.
Alsobrooks has had a “noticeable” 430 juvenile arrests so far this year — nearly double the year-earlier figure — and 84 juvenile arrests for carjacking — nearly the same number as the full 12 months of 2021.
According to the curfew regulations, young people under the age of 17 must be at home between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weekdays and Sundays and between midnight and 5 a.m. on Friday and Saturday evenings.
The “cooling-down period”, as Alsobrooks called it, runs for 30 days.
An alert will be sent to the parent or guardian of a child who has crossed lockdown, and the child will be released to social services if the parent or guardian does not respond regarding their child.
Parents of teens who have broken curfew and business owners who allow them to remain on the premises after curfew face a fine of $50 for the first offense, $100 for a second offense and Expect $250 for subsequent offenses.
Violent crime, including homicides, shootings and auto thefts, rose in 2020 and again in 2021 after a decade of decline in the region.
On Saturday night, 15-year-old De’Andre Johnson of Washington, DC, the latest victim – was shot and killed around 8 p.m. while he was in a 7-Eleven in the capital’s Capitol Heights neighborhood, just five miles from Capitol Hill. shopped .
Two adults and another 15-year-old were also shot dead, leaving the teenager in hospital in critical condition.
A $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of the killers, who police believe may have deliberately targeted their victims.
Police are seen outside the 7-Eleven in the Capitol Heights area of Washington DC after the fatal shooting of 15-year-old De’Andre Johnson on Saturday night
“It should be obvious to everyone that something isn’t working,” Alsobrooks said, referring to “armed and dangerous” children.
“We arrest and detain the same children and adults who commit crimes in our community.”
She said parents need to take more responsibility for their children.
“At this point, these kids not only need a hug, they need to be held accountable,” Alsobrooks said.
“I know this isn’t very popular, but it’s a fair question: Where are her parents? Where are the aunts, where are the uncles and other family members who are responsible for them?
“We need family members to stand up and do their part.”
She said she is seeking an emergency meeting with the Department of Youth Services and court system officials to understand “how these children will be held accountable.”
She also called on prosecutors, courts and the police department to release data on arrests and dispositions of cases, and said police continue to arrest and re-arrest repeat offenders, both adults and juveniles.
Alsobrooks said: “In short, we have an accountability issue in our county. We need our entire criminal justice system to act and full public transparency so we can tackle this issue together.”
Prince George’s County Prosecutor Aisha Braveboy said the crime problem is in crisis and the number of young people committing carjacking is “outrageous”.
Of the 84 youths arrested for carjacking, half were under the age of 15. But Braveboy insisted her office do its job.
“We absolutely hold people accountable for serious crimes,” Braveboy said, pointing to a 98 percent conviction rate.
However, she pointed out that changes in the law in recent years have had an impact on how juvenile cases are handled, including restricting when a juvenile can be held and their rights during and after the trial.
“We are part of the justice system; We make recommendations, but we don’t have the final say.’
Calvin Hawkins, President of Prince George’s County Council, said he supported Alsobrook’s ‘firm action’ on the youth curfew and suggested that the County Council exercise its oversight powers over the court system.
“Somebody has to ask the question: Who is allowing these individuals to come back onto our streets?” he said.
“Yes, we can say that little Johnny and little Lisa are so nice.
“But if they commit crimes that impact the community we have to live in, enough is enough.”