Local Officials Urge Tighter Youth Curfew To Reduce Crime
Youth crime has taken center stage recently. From mall shootings to the near fatal shooting of a police K9 by some teens, local officials have even called for stricter curfews to curb these crimes.
Keiyanna Smart, “My city didn’t give us a curfew. My mother did. And I thank her for that.”
On Tuesday, Chattanooga City Council passed the first reading of a bill to tighten the city’s curfew.
Keiyanna said, “It kept me out of a lot of trouble. It kept me out of the streets.”
If passed fully, the city will then follow the Tennessee state curfew which is stricter than Chattanooga’s.
Local officials sight the rise in juvenile crime as a reason the change is necessary. On Saturday, two juveniles were arrested at the Hamilton Place Mall.
Arrest reports say one of the kids was involved in a prior mall shooting. Reports say both kids are gang members.
Keiyanna said, “A lot of teenagers, they’re getting a hold of these guns and they’re doing whatever their friend told them or their uncle told them.”
Citing prior rap sheets, some officials are calling for a change in juvenile crime legislation to curb repeat offenses.
Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge Robert Philyaw, “For the children we see that are charged with committing delinquent acts, on the whole about half we never see again. They are what we call one and done. Those are the kids that usually have a support at home or school. Strong parents that take disciplinary action and do things on their own.”
Judge Philyaw says the hope is always that these children, who have often grown up in abuse and poverty, can turn their lives around. “The other half we tragically see over and over and over. And by the time they reach majority, or get transferred over to adult court, we feel like we have raised them.”
The city is grappling with solutions to the violence while officials recognize it can start at home.
Judge Philyaw, “Most of the children we see who commit violence acts have been on our dockets before as dependent, neglected children.”