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Jackson implements youth curfew with hopes of reducing juvenile crime

Photo by SuperTalk Mississippi News

Jackson City Council members have unanimously agreed to implement a curfew ordinance after the recent rise in juvenile crimes.

Councilman Kenneth Stokes released plans last month to propose a curfew aimed at preventing minors from being without adult supervision from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the week and from midnight to 6 a.m. on the weekends.

The ordinance included that any minor found violating the ordinance would be transported to the Henley Young Juvenile Detention Center while the parents or guardians were sent a written warning on the first offense. The adult would then be issued a $25 fine on the second offense, with the fee increasing by $25 with each following violation.

“Let’s get these kids out of the equation. Let’s stop these kids from becoming killers or being killed. They make bad decisions because number one, they’re young,” Stokes said. “We’ve all been young, and someone saved us. That’s what it’s about, saving these children like somebody saved us.”

Other stipulations in the ordinance state that it will also be unlawful for any school-age child to be unaccompanied by an adult from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. on the weekdays during the school term, per the Mississippi Compulsory School Attendance Law.

Exceptions to the ordinance include:

  • When accompanied by an adult authorized by a parent of a minor to take said parent’s place in accompanying the minor for a designated period of time and definite purpose within a specified area
  • Until the hour of 12:30 a.m. if the minor is on an errand as directed by his or her parent
  • If the minor is legally employed, for the period of 45 minutes before to 45 minutes after work, while going directly between his or her home and place of employment
  • Until the hour of 12:30 a.m. if the minor is on the property of or on the sidewalk directly adjacent to the place where such minor resides or the place immediately adjacent thereto if the owner of the adjacent building does not communicate an objection to the minor and the police officer
  • When returning home by a direct route from (and within 30 minutes of the termination of) a school activity or an activity of a religious or other voluntary association
  • In the case of reasonable necessity
  • When a minor is, with parental consent, in a motor vehicle engaged in bona fide interstate travel through the city particularly on Interstate 55, 20, and 220

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba refuted Stokes’ claims weeks before Wednesday’s council meeting, stating that data has shown a decrease in crime throughout the capital city throughout 2023.

“I do think that it is of note that we are seeing a decrease in overall crime by the data, and I will leave my crime-fighting initiatives or efforts to be a discussion between myself and the police chief and their recommendations from the Jackson Police Department,” the mayor told WJTV.

During Wednesday’s council meeting, however, Lumumba proposed the implementation of curfew centers in the future in addition to the ordinance.

“If they’ve done actual criminal acts, then there are laws and there are things in place that deal with those criminal acts,” Lumumba argued. “But young people who may be leaving for all kinds of reasons out of their home, really need the appropriate services to address that.”

Over Lumumba’s first six years in office, the homicide rate has almost tripled, going from 35.63 per 100,000 residents in 2017 to 92.1 per 100,000 residents in 2022. Jackson currently has an estimated population of 143,776.

Officials have since released that approximately 109 homicides were reported throughout Jackson for 2023, a decrease from the 138 total homicides in 2022. One year prior, Jackson was dubbed “America’s Deadliest Major City” after seeing 155 homicides.

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