NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Under new law, Texas cities can’t enforce youth curfews – and some say they didn’t work anyway

Crime watch sign stands at Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. on Sept. 12, in Grand Prairie.
Juan Salinas
Crime watch sign stands at Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. on Sept. 12, in Grand Prairie.

Cities and counties in Texas can no longer mandate curfews for adolescents under a new state law that went into effect earlier this month.

House Bill 1819 bans local governments from enforcing curfews for minors, which research shows are ineffective at reducing crime.

“Over time, it's been shown that these curfew ordinances really don't have an effect on juvenile crime, and they end up doing more harm than good,” said Brett Merfish, director of youth justice at Texas Appleseed.

The advocacy group supported the bill in the recent legislative session.

The bill — unlike similar ones in the past — had the support of lawmakers from both political parties who realized minor curfews aren’t the best policy, Merfish said. Black and Hispanic children are often disproportionately targeted.

“But (it’s) also about liberty and freedom of movement,” Merfish said.

Under the new law, cities with existing curfew ordinances have had to repeal them. In late August, just before HB 1819 went into effect, the Plano city council struck its juvenile curfew, which the city had extended for three years in 2022.

At the time, Plano Police Chief Ed Drain told city council members the curfew was an effective tool in providing for the protection of minors and the public and for the reduction of the incidence of juvenile criminal activities for Plano police.

Plano’s municipal court and the prosecution office have already taken steps to stop enforcement under HB 1819, according to Plano city officials. Any handwritten notices to appear submitted to the municipal court will be returned to the officer by the Clerk’s Office.

“There will be no more enforcement of violations of juvenile curfew," Plano city officials told KERA in a written statement.

“It didn't make our community safer”

Earlier this year, in Fort Worth, officials were having their own discussions about renewing the city’s juvenile curfew.

“Looking back on the work that we did here in the city of Fort Worth as a council office, a lot of work to really understand what our own curfew ordinance looked like,” council member Jared Williams told KERA. “After really diving into the research and the data behind the policy and after engaging our community, we discovered that the ordinance wasn't effective. It didn't make our community safer.”

There were 29 curfew citations given in 2022 in Fort Worth, according to a Jan. 24 informal report to council members. Overall citations dropped from 72 in 2020 to 29 in 2022 – but of those, 15 were given to Black and Hispanic children.

The ordinance, Williams said, “created situations that were harmful and that put our officers in bad positions without training of how to identify someone who's underage.”

The City of Fort Worth

Ultimately, as a bill similar to HB 1819 made its way through the Texas Senate, Fort Worth leaders halted discussions about the curfew and instead decided to let it sunset.

“It is prudent as local policymakers that we work alongside our statewide officials, and we believe that any potential action by our Council could be premature and possibly temporary,” Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker wrote in the news release. “Therefore, we will allow our existing curfew ordinance to expire on February 13, and we will continue to engage with our state legislators on this important issue.”

Cities not relying on a curfew gives municipalities opportunities to create more resources for young people and help those in need without criminalizing them, Merfish said.

And that’s what Fort Worth officials are looking to do, said Williams. The city is considering expanding hours and hiring more staff members at community centers as a part of its fiscal 2024 budget.

“I think it's important that as a community, we are a village for our youth and make sure they're okay,” Williams said.

Juan Salinas II is a KERA news intern. Got a tip? Email Juan at You can follow Juan on Twitter @4nsmiley.

Juan Salinas II is currently studying journalism at UT-Arlington. He is a transfer student from TCC, where he worked at the student newspaper, The Collegian, and his reporting has also appeared in Central Track, D Magazine, The Shorthorn and other Texas news outlets.