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Fort Worth City Council extends youth curfew — for now

In this photo, there is a large gray concrete building with the words "CITY HALL" on the front.
City of Fort Worth

A 1994 ordinance bans kids under 17 from staying out late in Fort Worth without adult supervision. Critics say it targets Black and brown communities.

Fort Worth leaders temporarily extended the city's youth curfew late Tuesday as they mull whether to keep it in place for at least another three years.

At Tuesday night’s city council meeting, members postponed their vote on the ordinance until they can review police records to determine the effectiveness of the law.

That law has been in place since 1994 and requires a triennial vote.

Currently, minors cannot be out unsupervised between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday to Thursday or midnight to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday.

Critics say the law disproportionately affects Black and brown communities.

“There is no practicality of enforcing this ordinance, nor had data been provided to show whether there is a correlation between crime statistics and curfew violations,” said District 9 resident Tamara Hutcherson, who spoke before the council. “This curfew criminalizes our youth.”

Records from the Fort Worth Police Department show that 120 citations have been given over the past three years. Each carries a $500 fine. Teens in violation of the ordinance attend teen court to determine further consequences.

District 2 Councilmember Carlos Flores voiced his support for the curfew. He says parents have a “legal and moral responsibility to keep their children safe.”

“A positive feature of curfew laws is that they can be used for means of identifying children that are at high risk if their crimes start elevating to a higher degree,” Flores said. “And it's also likely that minors who are out late during the night, and early morning hours, may lack some supervision.”

Born in London, Morning Producer and Podcast Host Katherine Hobbs has lived across the U.S. since 2001. Prior to joining KERA, she produced three podcasts for WJCT Public Media and Florida Public Media and wrote for Jacksonville Magazine, Autism Parenting Magazine and EU Jacksonville, among others. Katherine is thrilled to return to Texas after briefly living in Austin to share the stories that impact our North Texas community. When she’s not working, Katherine can be found admiring public libraries and visiting penguin colonies around the world.