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Baltimore’s Juvenile Curfew:

Evaluating Effectiveness

Lacey N. Wallace 1

Criminal Justice Review


ª 2016 Georgia State University Reprints and permission:

DOI: 10.1177/0734016815626971 Abstract Juvenile curfew statutes are used in hundreds of

Abstract Juvenile curfew statutes are used in hundreds of cities across the United States to prevent juvenile offending and victimization. In spite of their popularity, there is disagreement in the existing liter- ature as to whether juvenile curfews are truly effective. The current study assesses the effectiveness of a change in the juvenile curfew statutes in Baltimore, MD. Data consist of police arrest records for the months preceding and following the curfew change. Regression analyses address both change in arrest totals and change in the ratio of youth to adult arrests and the ratio of arrests within curfew hours to outside of curfew hours. Results indicate an increase in the ratio of youth to adult arrests during curfew hours. However, arrest totals were decreasing overall at the time of the curfew change. Implications for further investigation are discussed.

Keywords juvenile curfew, juvenile offending, public policy


Although juvenile arrest rates for violent crime have consistently been on the decline since the mid- 1990s (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2014), juveniles still constituted 13% of all violent crime arrests and 20 % of all property crime arrests in 2011 (Puzzanchera, 2013). Juvenile offenders are responsible for the majority of violent crimes against those aged 8–15 (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2005). However, juveniles are also vulnerable to victimization. A juvenile was more than twice as likely as an adult to be the victim of violent crime from 1993 to 2003 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2005). Juveniles aged 12–17 had the highest violent victimization rate of all age-groups in 2013 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2015). These figures have led many localities to consider policies that might curb the occurrence of victimization and offend- ing among juveniles. One such policy, and the focus of the present article, is a juvenile curfew statute that prohibits juveniles from frequenting public places within specified hours. A number of major cities in the United States including Los Angeles, New Orleans, Houston, and Detroit have enacted such laws

1 Department of Criminal Justice, Penn State Altoona, Altoona, PA, USA

Corresponding Author:

Lacey N. Wallace, Department of Criminal Justice, Penn State Altoona, 101G Cypress Building, 3000 Ivyside Park, Altoona, PA 16601, USA. Email:


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(Kline, 2011). In 2014, Baltimore, MD, revised its existing juvenile curfew to be among the strictest in the nation. The potential effects of this chang e for victimization or offending are unclear. Although McDowall, Loftin, and Wiersema (2000) found some declines in arrests for crimes like burglary and larceny after revised curfew laws in other cities, these were not mirrored by declines in offending or victimization; there appeared to be little, if any, impact resulting from the curfews. Kline (2011), in contrast, examined arrest data and found significant declines in both violent and property crime arrests for juveniles following the implementation of curfews. Kline, however, did not examine the effects of revising an existing statute. Previously, youth in Baltimore were permitted to remain in public until 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on weekends (Baltimore Police Department, 2013). Except under certain extenuating circumstances, Baltimore’s new curfew prohibits any person less than 14 years of age to be in any public place or establishment between 9 p.m. on any day and 6 a.m. of the following day (The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 2014). Youth aged 14–17 may not stay out past 10 p.m. on a weeknight (11 p.m. during the summer) or 11 p.m. on a weekend (The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 2014). Youth are also subject to a daytime curfew during school hours. Parents of juveniles violating curfew may be penalized by fines or community service hours (The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 2014). While these are substantial changes, the impact of the revised policy is both unknown and controversial. The present article assesses the effects of Baltimore’s change in curfew statutes on the number of arrests to determine whether the change in policy affected crime.

Theory Behind Curfew Laws

The rationale for using juvenile curfew laws to prevent criminal offending matches closely with the propositions of routine activities theory. According to this theory, criminal activity is more likely to occur when three elements converge in time and space: a likely offender, a suitable target, and absence of capable guardians. A likely offender is someone who would engage in crime or delin- quency given the opportunity (Cohen & Felson, 1979). Since delinquent behavior increases in prevalence during the teen years (Farrington, 1986; Lauritsen, 1998; Steffensmeier, Allan, Harer, & Streifel, 1989), this label could apply to a number of juveniles. A suitable target could be a physical victim, desirable commodity, or perhaps a desirable activity. Guardians are individuals, circumstances, or even objects like security cameras that protect the target or leave the impression that the target is protected (Cohen & Felson, 1 979). In the absence of guardians, targets are vulnerable. Using this framework, juvenile curfews would, theoretically, be expected to reduce crime. By restricting the hours during which juveniles can be in public, the number of would-be offenders is likely to be reduced. Since juveniles are also vulnerable to victimization, curfew restrictions could reduce the number of would-be victims frequenting public spaces during specified hours. In other words, curfews would reduce the number of suitable targets. As stated by Baltimore officials:

The increase in juvenile delinquency has been caused in part by the large number of minors who are permitted to remain in public places and in certain establishments during night hours without adult supervision, and during daylight hours at times when, by law, they are required to attend school. (The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 2014, p. 80)

In this statement, the absence of adult and school supervision is consistent with the absence of capable guardians under routine activities theory. Juvenile curfew laws prohibit juveniles from being unsupervised in public places during certain hours, thereby limiting situations where guardians are absent. Further, the laws restrict juveniles f rom frequenting public spaces when guardians of



property might be limited or absent. Many businesses, for instance, are closed through the night. Though security cameras and other measures may be in place as guardians, the extended curfew limits juvenile access to these venues at times when they are most vulnerable to theft, damage, or other crime due to limited guardianship. By extending the hours during which juveniles are pro- hibited to be in public spaces, Baltimore’s change in curfew statutes would, in theory, be expected to reduce crime. However, there are a number of challenges involved in implementation of either new or revised statutes that must be considered.

Challenges With Implementation

Unfortunately, curfew laws in practice do not generally target the times of day when the coalescence of a likely offender, a suitable target, and absence of capable guardians is most likely. On school days, juvenile violent offending peaks just after the end of the school day, at approximately 3 p.m., and declines thereafter (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2014). Rates of offending after 9 p.m., the period of time affected by many curfews, are actually lower than those in the early morning and midmorning (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2014). According to one study, property crime offending by juveniles actually peaked before and during school hours on school days, not during the evening (Gottfredson & Soule´, 2005). On nonschool days, violent juvenile offending gradually rises through the day and peaks between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m., declining thereafter (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2014). Across both school and nonschool days, only about 15 % of juvenile violent offending occurs between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. (Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 2014). As these figures demonstrate, curfew laws may not be effective in practice if they are not targeting the typical periods when juvenile offending occurs. In the case of Baltimore, even the more restrictive hours are missing the peak crime periods for this age-group. Another challenge to implementation is enforc ement. In Baltimore, youth violating curfew are transported either to their homes or to youth conn ection centers where they are interviewed and held until a parent or guardian arrives (Wenger & Broadwater, 2014). Upon questioning, these centers attempt to identify the needs of the youth and family that may benefit from treatment or services. These efforts require funding, training, staffing, and other resources. These demands, not uncommon for curfews in other areas, may limit the degree to which juvenile curfew laws can truly be enforced. In 1997, the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that 23 % of cities with curfews reported problems with implementation. In Ba ltimore, 120 youth were processed for curfew violations in the first month after the curfew change went into effect, an average of 4 youth per night (Wenger & Broadwater, 2014), suggesting th at the curfew change is being enforced to some degree. Among the 446 law enforcement agencies studied by Bannister, Carter, and Schafer (2001), roughly 9 % reported only sporadic enforcement of the local juvenile curfew, another 18% reported that the use of the curfew depended on officer discretion, while 15% reported that the curfew was only enforced under special circumstances. In total, this meant that more than 40% of the contacted agencies did not consistently enforce the juvenile curfew. Half of the localities that did not have a juvenile curfew in place indicated that lack of police resources was the primary reason for not having such an ordinance (Bannister, Carter, & Schafer, 2001). However, most agencies with curfews felt that they were a valuable use of police resources and an effective means of preventing juvenile offending (Bannister et al., 2001; U.S. Conference of Mayors, 1997). Not all entities have quite so positive view of juvenile curfews, creating yet another challenge to successful enforcement and implementation. One of the more vocal organizations concerned about the implementation of curfew ordinances is the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). In a 2014 letter to Baltimore City officials, the ACLU of Maryland expressed concern that:


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) any individual stopped under the curfew law will, by definition, be experiencing increased law

) Will those stopped under the ) What proactive steps is the

City taking to ensure that encounters do not escalate into arrest or use of force? How will the City ensure that the curfew is enforced fairly and in a non-discriminatory manner? (Curtis, 2014, pp. 1–2)


enforcement contacts and all the consequences that flow from that. ( curfew be frisked, asked to empty their pockets, or otherwise searched? (

In addition to these questions, the Maryland ACLU asked Baltimore City officials to clarify a number of points related to the law including what would happen to juveniles if they fled from police and what would happen if connection centers were not open (Curtis, 2014). Opponents of juvenile curfew ordinances have also argued that the laws infringe on juveniles’ First Amendment rights, namely, to free expression and assembly (Poff, 2001). In recent years, the ACLU and other con- cerned parties have initiated a number of court cases challenging the constitutionality and fairness of juvenile curfew ordinances. In spite of these challenges, juvenile curfew statutes are quite common. In 1997, the U.S. Conference of Mayors (1997) reported that 80 % of the cities they surveyed (population 30,000þ ) had a nighttime curfew, and many of these cities also had a daytime curfew (26 %). As of 2009, more than 500 cities across the United States had enacted juvenile curfews (Favre, 2009). Major cities with curfews include Los Angeles, Dallas, New Orleans, Houston, and Detroit, among others (Kline, 2011). Despite their popularity, the effectiveness of juvenile curfews, or revisions to these statutes, remains unclear.

Curfew Effectiveness

Existing research regarding the effectiveness of juvenile curfews is mixed. Reynolds, Seydlitz, and Jenkins (2000), for example, studied the effect of a New Orleans juvenile curfew enacted in 1994. The authors found that juvenile arrests and victimizations during curfew hours did not decrease significantly after the law went into effect. Property and violent victimizations during noncurfew hours actually increased following the enactment of the juvenile curfew (Reynolds, Seydlitz, & Jenkins, 2000). Likewise, Males and Macallair (1999) studied juvenile curfew statutes in California and found that curfew enactment had no significant impact on crime. The same result was observed for a juvenile curfew in Connecticut (Males, 2000). McDowall et al. (2000) took a broader approach and studied all 57 U.S. cities with 1980 populations over 250,000, most of which had enacted juvenile curfews. Although the authors examined a number of crime types, burglary, larceny, and assault were the only crimes for which arrests of juveniles decreased following curfew enactment (McDowall, Loftin, & Wiersema, 2000). These effects were not entirely robust; decreases were observed for revised statutes, but not for new statutes. Effects were also inconsistent across sample types (city vs. city-county). The authors concluded that there was little, if any, evidence that the curfews were effective in reducing crime (McDowall et al., 2000). Some research also found evidence that juvenile curfews displaced crime to other times of the day (Adams, 2003). In one early study of a juvenile curfew in Detroit, for example, Hunt and Weiner (1977) found that the curfew effectively prevented crime during noncurfew hours, and displacement of some of this criminal activity to noncurfew hours was apparent, however. Criminal activity shifted to the early afternoon hours, nearly doubling the proportion of criminal activity occurring during that time of the day (Hunt & Weiner, 1977). Likewise, Reynolds et al. (2000) found a permanent increase in victimization during noncurfew hours following the implementation of a New Orleans juvenile curfew. However, there does exist some research evidence that juvenile curfews have the potential to be effective. Kline (2011) examined 92 cities with a 1992 population of 180,000 or more; of these, 54 enacted or revised juvenile curfew statutes during the study period. Kline estimated that arrests of



juveniles below curfew age declined by roughly 10% in the 5 years following curfew enactment. Kline’s study differs from those described above in that its methodology is designed to detect trends preceding enactment to distinguish curfew-specific effects from prior trends in arrests. Also, Kline presents an age-graded model, where effects are examined among juveniles below curfew age overall, juveniles just below curfew age, as well as young adults. Like Kline, an early study of a juvenile curfew statute in Detroit also found that a juvenile curfew was effective in preventing crime during curfew hours (Hunt & Weiner, 1977). Given this inconsistency in the literature, the potential effectiveness of Baltimore’s recent juve- nile curfew revision is unclear. Not only has Baltimore changed its statute, but the changes are also quite strict in comparison with many other localities. The present study addresses the impact of the curfew changes on the number of arrests to determine whether the change in policy met its desired goal of reducing crime and victimization. Following the example of Kline (2011), the present study will account for crime trends preceding the curfew change to isolate curfew-specific effects.

Material and Methods Data

Data were obtained from the Open Baltimore website (, where the Baltimore Police Department and other local agencies post their records for public access. Crime data are posted to Open Baltimore very soon after arrests or reports are made, making it possible to analyze crime trends some time before other frequently used sources of crime data, like the Uniform Crime Reports, are available. The data also include time of day and GPS coordinates for crimes and arrests that may be unavailable through other sources. The data used by this study consist of 99,940 records of arrests processed through Baltimore’s central intake facility between January 1, 2013, and August 22, 2015, as these were the data available at the time of this writing. These records include the age of the offender, the primary arrest charge(s), the location of the arrest, and the time of the arrest. Though the data do include 380 juvenile arrest records, they do not include arrests processed solely through Baltimore’s juvenile booking facilities, a limitation that will be discussed later in this article.


The outcome of interest in this study is the number of arrests. The arrest charge listed in the data is used to classify the arrest into crime categorizations that include assault (simple and aggravated), arson, burglary, auto theft, homicide, attempted homicide, larceny, rape, trespassing, vandalism, prostitution, weapons violations, drug offenses, robbery (simple robbery, aggravated robbery, car- jacking), court order violations, and other. These categorizations are collapsed into violent crime (homicide, rape, assault, robbery, etc.), property crime (arson, burglary, auto theft, larceny, vand- alism, etc.), public order offenses (trespassing, prostitution, disorderly conduct, etc.), drug-related crimes, and other offenses. Attempts and conspiracy to commit crimes are categorized with their respective crime types. At times, the data classify an arrest as resulting from more than one charge. In these cases, the primary charge is used to classify the case to avoid having a case classified into more than one crime type. Some models test for arrest trends by age-group. Juvenile is defined as someone under age 18. Following the convention of Kline (2011), youthful offender is defined as someone aged 18–25. Adult consists of all offenders over age 25. Models also test for variation by time of day. Curfew hours are defined as 9 p.m.–6 a.m. The key predictor in all models is a dummy indicator of when the curfew change went into effect (August 8, 2014). This variable is coded as 0 for all time periods before the curfew change and 1 for


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all time periods thereafter. All models include a control for time, in weeks, leading up to the curfew to better isolate curfew-specific change from other time trends. This indicator is coded as 0 for all time periods at or after the date of the curfew change. For time periods before the curfew change, this variable is coded as:

–1*(number of weeks before curfew change)

In other words, the value of this indicator increases as the date of curfew change approaches, helping to account for arrest trends in weeks preceding the curfew. Other controls are dummy indicators for region of the city where the arrest occurred (central, eastern, northeastern, northern, northwestern, southeastern, southern, southwestern, and western). The southern region is used as the reference category in all models. Although the curfew change affected all of Baltimore, including these control variables accounts for region-specific trends that may impact arrest counts. Changes in arrests, for instance, may be more pronounced in some areas than in others due to variation in enforcement or other factors.


Since the data are organized by day, the data were first aggregated to reflect weekly counts of crime reports rather than daily counts. This change was made to reduce day-to-day variation that might make disentangling of results more difficult. It is too soon after this curfew’s implementation to aggregate to monthly data; this would result in an insufficient number of time points for analysis. List-wise deletion is used to remove cases from analysis that are missing offender age (50 cases) or arrest charge information (6,608 cases). Arrests trends are analyzed via ordinary least squares regression with robust, clustered standard errors used to account for serial correlation and hetero- scedasticity. The basic equation used by all models is:

Y i ¼ b 0 þ b 1 Curfew i þ b 2 Time i þ b 3 Reg1 i þ b 4 Reg2 i þ

þ b 8 Reg8 i þ e i

In this equation, Y i refers to the number of arrests for a gi ven observation (observations are counts of arrests for each week within each region). b 0 is an intercept term. The remaining b s are regression coefficients for the curfew change dummy indicator, indicator for time leading up to the curfew, and the region dummy indicators, respectively, and e i is error term. To test how number of arrests varies relative to time of day, age, and cr ime type, this article exam ines several dependent variables:

1. Total number of arrests for juveniles, young adults, adults, and all offenders overall;

2. Arrests for various crime types (violent, property, drug, public order);

3. Ratio of juvenile (or young adult) to adult arrests; and

4. Ratio of curfew to noncurfew arrests, taking into account age and crime type.

Although the first two of these outcomes address arrest trends overall, the latter two are needed to properly assess a curfew effect. Since the curfew change was written to only affect juveniles, a curfew effect should be evidenced by a change in juvenile arrests, not in adult arrests. Further, since the curfew change only affects certain hours of the day, any change in arrest/crime patterns should be occurring during curfew-affected hours. Change in both curfew and noncurfew time periods would indicate a displacement effect, whereby crime that would normally occur at one time of the day now occurs at a different time of the day. Examining these outcome variables as a whole indicates whether the curfew had the desired effect of reducing juvenile arrests (relative to adults, which should be a stable trend) during curfew hours, without having a corresponding displacement or change occurring during noncurfew hours.



Table 1. Summary Statistics for Weekly Arrest Totals Before and After the Curfew Change by Region.

Precurfew Average Number of Arrests (Standard Deviation) January 1, 2013–August 7, 2014

Postcurfew Average Number of Arrests (Standard Deviation) August 8, 2014–August 22, 2015


All Crime Violent Crime Property crime

All crime

Violent crime Property crime


56.2 (8.2)

8.6 (3.0)

5.9 (2.3)

40.8 (11.1)

5.8 (2.5)

4.0 (1.9)


65.6 (8.2)

8.9 (2.5)

6.0 (2.4)

47.6 (12.9)

7.0 (3.8)

4.3 (2.5)

Northeastern 55.0 (8.5)

10.2 (3.1)

7.3 (3.0)

39.8 (11.4)

7.5 (3.0)

5.2 (2.7)


29.3 (6.1)

6.1 (2.7)

4.1 (1.9)

22.2 (6.4)

4.0 (2.3)

3.6 (2.1)

Northwestern 44.0 (8.1)

6.4 (2.7)

4.8 (2.3)

31.1 (8.1)

4.3 (2.1)

3.2 (1.8)


59.7 (7.8)

10.4 (3.00)

7.3 (3.0)

44.0 (11.5)

8.4 (3.3)

5.3 (2.00)


67.8 (8.2)

9.4 (2.9)

8.6 (3.00)

48.1 (12.1)

7.5 (3.3)

6.0 (2.6)

Southwestern 41.2 (7.2)

5.4 (2.5)

4.5 (2.1)

31.6 (7.8)

4.5 (2.5)

3.3 (1.4)


63.3 (10.7)

6.1 (2.6)

4.3 (2.1)

45.3 (12.2)

4.1 (2.1)

3.1 (1.8)


760.3 (67.3) 147.5 (18.4)

76.1 (10.8)

553.3 (123.7) 106.9 (24.5)

54.6 (13.1)


Before examining the effects of the curfew change on trends in arrests, it is first important to consider overall arrest trends as context. Table 1 shows mean number of arrests, by region, averaged across the time periods before and after the curfew change. These means are displayed for the overall arrest totals as well as for violent and property crime separately. Across all crime categories shown, there appears to be a net decrease in the number of arrests between the prechange and postchange period. However, this observation does not indicate whether the curfew itself can be linked to this trend. It is quite possible that crime rates and arrest counts were decreasing throughout the period under study. The models discussed below test whether the curfew change itself made a contribution to this trend. Regression models predicting arrest counts are displayed in Table 2. The top set of models use arrest total overall and by age-group as outcomes. The bottom set of models uses arrest counts by crime type as outcomes. Addressing age first, the implementation of the curfew change is associated with a statistically significant decrease in overall number of arrests, arrests of youthful offenders aged 18–25, and arrests of adult offenders. For overall arrests, the curfew change was associated with a 13 arrest decrease in the weekly arrest count. Results indicate no significant change at the time of the curfew in the number of juvenile arrests processed through Baltimore’s central intake facility. Examining the bottom set of models using crime type as outcomes, results are similar. The implanta- tion of the curfew change is associated with a statistically significant decrease in violent crime arrests, property crime arrests, drug-related arrests, and arrests for public order offenses. The decrease is most pronounced for drug crime and least pronounced for public order crime. However, the juvenile curfew is designed to target young offenders. It remains unclear from these models whether the decrease in arrest counts is driven more by adult crime or by juvenile and youthful offender crimes. Further, it is unknown to this point whether the decrease in arrests is occurring during the hours the curfew change affects. To address these remaining questions, Table 3 displays the results of regression models using ratios of arrests as outcomes. The first two models examine the number of juvenile and young adult arrests, relative to adult arrests. As shown, there is a very small, but marginally significant, increase in the ratio of juvenile to adult arrests associated with the curfew change. There is no significant change in the ratio of young adult to adult arrests. Subsequent models in Table 3 address time and age concurrently. Regarding the ratio of night to day arrests overall, results show a significant


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Table 2. Ordinary Least Squares Regression Models Predicting Arrest Totals Overall by Age-Group and by Crime Type.


All Arrests

Juvenile Arrests

Youthful Arrests

Adult Arrests


13.17** (1.58) 9.86** (0.00) 1.51** (0.00) 10.98** (0.00) 33.42** (0.00) 21.05** (0.00) 6.49** (000) 22.51** (0.00) 3.78** (0.00) 0.03* (0.01) 64.28** (0.86)

0.042 (0.04) 0.04** (0.00) 0.07** (0.00) 0.04** (0.00) 0.22** (0.00) 0.06** (0.00) 0.05** (000) 0.14** (0.00) 0.04** (0.00) 0.00 (0.00) 0.25** (0.03)

4.57** (0.69) 5.01** (0.00) 4.50** (0.00) 3.32** (0.00) 14.50** (0.00) 9.53** (0.00) 2.93** (000) 8.49** (0.00) 4.46** (0.00) 0.02 (0.01) 24.11** (0.44)

9.30** (1.17) 7.47** (0.00) 1.80** (0.00) 9.39** (0.00) 21.63** (0.00) 13.23** (0.00) 4.21** (000) 16.11** (0.00) 0.51** (0.00) 0.02 (0.01) 44.21** (0.74)












Violent Crime

Property Crime

Drug Crime

Public Order


1.68** (0.18) 1.14** (0.00) 0.46** (0.00) 0.51** (0.00) 3.35** (0.00) 3.05** (0.00) 0.99** (000) 3.58** (0.00) 3.34** (0.00) 0.01** (0.00) 9.09** (0.16)

1.53** (0.31) 2.39** (0.00) 2.21** (0.00) 1.09** (0.00) 3.63** (0.00) 3.36** (0.00) 1.04** (000) 3.48** (0.00) 3.74** (0.00) 0.00 (0.00) 8.08** (0.21)

7.34** (0.97) 3.50** (0.00) 4.87** (0.00) 6.27** (0.00) 17.07** (0.00) 8.43** (0.00) 2.48** (000) 8.79** (0.00) 6.80** (0.00) 0.02 þ (0.01) 32.48** (0.48)

0.75* (0.30) 1.42** (0.00) 3.51** (0.00) 3.93** (0.00) 5.25** (0.00) 3.33** (0.00) 2.64** (000) 4.06** (0.00) 3.12** (0.00) 0.00 (0.00) 6.97** (0.19)











Note . Standard errors displayed in parentheses. Standard errors of 0.00 indicate a standard error less than 0.005. ** p < .01. * p < .05. þ p < .10.

increase in the number of night arrests relative to daytime arrests at the time of the curfew change. The next several models in Table 3 indicate that this increase is present within the juvenile, nonadult (both juvenile and youthful offenders), and adult age-groups, respectively. The final two models in Table 3, shown in the bottom row, examine the ratio of arrests, by age, within the hours the juvenile curfew is designed to impact. The first of these two models shows that there is no significant change in the ratio of juvenile to adult curfew-hour arrests. The second, however, shows a marginally significant increase in the ratio of nonadult (both juvenile and youthful offenders) to adult curfew-hour arrests. In other words, the implementation of the curfew change in Baltimore was associated with an increase in the ratio of youthful offender to adult offender arrests during curfew hours. A supplemental model (results not shown) found a marginally significant increase in the ratio of youth to adult arrests during curfew hours relative to this ratio during noncurfew hours at the time the curfew change went into effect. This finding provides evidence of change during curfew hours that is not matched by change occurring outside of curfew hours (a displacement effect). Possible explanations for this finding are addressed in the pages that follow.


While some of the extant literature has found that juvenile curfew statutes are ineffective at reducing offending (Males, 2000; McDowall et al., 2000; Reynolds et al., 2000), Kline (2011) and Hunt and



Table 3. Ordinary Least Squares Regression Models Predicting Arrest Ratios by Age and Time of Day.



Young Adult/Adult

Juvenile Night/Day




Night/Day Arrests



0.002 þ (0.001) 0.001** (0.000) 0.001** (0.000) 0.002** (0.000) 0.002** (0.000) 0.001** (0.000) 0.000** (0000) 0.001** (0.000) 0.000** (0.000) 0.000 (0.000) 0.004** (0.001)

0.021 (0.017) 0.026** (0.000) 0.137** (0.000) 0.067** (0.000) 0.126** (0.000) 0.075** (0.000) 0.024** (0000) 0.024** (0.000) 0.105** (0.000) 0.000 (0.000) 0.563** (0.014)

0.047** (0.006) 0.002** (0.000) 0.000** (0.000) 0.004** (0.000) 0.022** (0.000) 0.009** (0.000) 0.001** (0000) 0.008** (0.000) 0.002** (0.000) 0.000 (0.000) 0.005 þ (0.002)

0.145** (0.039) 0.045** (0.000) 0.025** (0.000) 0.057** (0.000) 0.089** (0.000) 0.087** (0.000) 0.019** (0000) 0.113** (0.000) 0.123** (0.000) 0.002 (0.001) 0.014 (0.037)












Nonadult Night/Day

Adult Night/ Day Arrests

Juvenile/Adult Night

Nonadult/Adult Night





0.074 þ (0.035) 0.078** (0.000) 0.074** (0.000) 0.104** (0.000) 0.174** (0.000) 0.094** (0.000) 0.053** (0000) 0.110** (0.000) 0.040** (0.000) 0.000 (0.000) 0.425** (0.023)

0.041** (0.010) 0.036** (0.000) 0.025** (0.000) 0.034** (0.000) 0.022** (0.000) 0.014** (0.000) 0.005** (0000) 0.022** (0.000) 0.022** (0.000) 0.000 (0.000) 0.452** (0.009)

0.004 (0.003) 0.003** (0.000) 0.001** (0.000) 0.006** (0.000) 0.007** (0.000) 0.000** (0.000) 0.000** (0000) 0.004** (0.000) 0.000** (0.000) 0.000 (0.000) 0.006* (0.002)

0.082 þ (0.044) 0.056** (0.000) 0.086** (0.000) 0.164** (0.000) 0.074** (0.000) 0.040** (0.000) 0.051** (0000) 0.180** (0.000) 0.078** (0.000) 0.000 (0.000) 0.550** (0.027)











Note. Standard errors are displayed in parentheses. Values of 0.00 indicate values less than 0.0005. ** p < .01. * p < .05. þ p < .10.

Weiner (1977) determined that these statutes do have some crime reduction potential. Given this discrepancy, the present article set out to determine whether Baltimore’s change in curfew statutes had any net impact on criminal offending, at least as measured by the number of arrests. Results indicate that Baltimore’s curfew change occurred in the midst of already declining arrest counts. Given this observation, it was important to distinguish the potential effects of the curfew from other factors, including arrest trends preceding the curfew implementation. Specifically, this article exam- ined whether changes in arrest patterns were specific to the age-group targeted (juveniles) and the hours stated in the curfew statute. Findings show an increase in the ratio of nighttime to daytime arrests overall and specifically an increase in the ratio of youth to adult arrests during curfew hours. These findings indicate a change in arrest patterns consistent with the hours of the curfew and target age-group. That this change was an increase rather than a decrease, and applies to offenders both above and below age 18, merits some discussion. Similar to other studies (Kline, 2011), the present study used arrest counts as a proxy measure of crime. To conclude that the change in curfew statutes was effective, the results would need to show that juvenile arrests decreased relative to adult arrests during curfew hours and that no corresponding increase or change occurred during noncurfew hours. Such a finding would suggest that juvenile crime decreased, that this decrease was specific to juveniles rather than to offenders of all age- groups, and that crime was not simply occurring at a different time of day. Instead, the results show an increase in this ratio at a time when arrests overall were in decline in Baltimore. This finding


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suggests that the curfew change did not have the desired effect of reducing juvenile crime during curfew hours, at least as measured by arrest counts. One possible explanation for the increased ratio of youth to adult arrests during curfew hours is increased public awareness of juvenile curfew, which may have placed pressure on law enforcement to enforce the new regulations. The curfew change in Baltimore did not pass without conflict. The ACLU and other organizations were vocal with their protest; much of this debate was highlighted in local news media (Curtis, 2014). Citizen interest in Baltimore’s new curfew policies can be approxi- mated using Google Trends (Google, 2014). This freely available tool calculates the relative fre- quency of search terms used in Google searches. While the exact number of searches is not provided, the Google Trends data provide insight into the timing of public interest in key events. The relative frequency of searches for ‘‘Baltimore curfew’’ spiked in late July and early August 2014. This coincides with the effective date of the curfew change, August 8, 2014. Interest, as represented by Google searches, did not fade until a few weeks after the curfew’s effective date, suggesting that there may have been a fair bit of public pressure for enforcement at the time the curfew went into effect. This would be consistent with an initial increase in juvenile arrests. Unfortunately, the data do not permit a full test of this possibility. Another explanation for the relative increase in youth arrests during curfew hours could be the discovery of criminal activity following law enforcement investigation of curfew violations. For example, an officer approaching a youth for a suspected curfew violation may determine that the youth is in possession of weapons or drugs. These crimes might not have been discovered otherwise. Although the available research evidence indicates that few curfew arrests result in or involve the detection of other criminal activity (Adams, 2003), Lersch and Sellers (2000) found that self- reported curfew violators indicated more involvement in delinquent activity than adolescents who did not violate curfew. Unlike prior studies (Hunt & Weiner, 1977; Reynolds et al., 2000), the present article did not find evidence of a displacement effect whereby crimes that would otherwise occur at night shift to daytime hours. Rather, results indicate an increase in the ratio of nighttime to daytime arrests. This finding does not necessarily mean that no crimes were displaced to a different time of day. Youth in Baltimore are also subject to a daytime curfew during school hours. It is possible that some crimes were displaced from day to night as a result. Unfortunately, with both night and day curfews in effect, this pattern is unclear. A final trend that merits explanation is the finding that the curfew change affected youthful offenders between the ages of 18 and 25, as well as all youth under age 25, with little significant change specific to those under age 1 8. One reason for this is statistical power. The data only include arrests processed through Ba ltimore’s central intake facility, meaning that few juvenile arrests are listed. This limits the ability to spot trends among juveniles only. The observation that effects extend to youthful offenders is termed a spillover effect. As suggested by Kline (2011), similar response to the curfew change by both juveniles and young offenders may indicate that these groups are similarly sit uated in criminal activ ity. Thus, detection of offenders in one group may implicate or involve d etection of individuals in the other age-group. Another explanation may be similar to that noted previously. Police may inadvertently approach individuals over age 18 for suspected curfew violations, only to find evidence of other criminal activity. Since youth just above the curfew cutoff age may not clearly appear to be over 18, this is certainly a possibility.

Directions for Future Research

Although this article examined the impact of Baltimore’s juvenile curfew on arrest trends, this is not the only outcome that juvenile curfews may affect. Truancy is also a concern for juveniles. As stated by Baltimore officials,



Late evening activity by certain of our youth prevents them from concentrating in class or, even worse, causes their absence from class. This, together with truancy, has risen alarmingly in recent years and youth is thus deprived of a necessary basic education. The rate of absenteeism has risen alarmingly in recent years while the achievement rate has rapidly decreased. The end result is an increase in failures and dropouts, frustration, malcontent, antisocial conduct, and, for many, a future without promise. (The Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, 2014, p. 80)

Baltimore officials have valid reason to be concerned. Nationwide, roughly 19% of fourth graders and 19% of eighth graders reported being absent from school for 3 or more days in the past month (Child Trends, 2014). Most of the 2008–2009 school year dropouts from Baltimore high schools already had a record of chronic absenteeism by ninth grade (Baltimore Education Research Con- sortium, 2010). For youth with low socioeconomic status (SES), the effects of school attendance on cognitive development are particularly strong. Even though they do not achieve at the same absolute level, research has shown that socioeconomically disadvantaged children with good attendance actually gained more literacy skills than their higher SES peers in the early elementary years (Ready, 2010). In Baltimore specifically, children with low attendance in early grades were likely to have low attendance and poor academic performance later on (Baltimore Education Research Consortium, 2012). One possibility for how juvenile curfews can reduce truancy is the association between sleeping patterns and absenteeism. According to one study, youth who went to bed late on weekends, as compared to weekdays, had higher rates of truancy and other risk behaviors (Pasch, Laska, Lytle, & Moe, 2010). Another study, based on adolescents in Taiwan, found that youth who slept for very long or very short durations were at higher risk for problem behaviors, including truancy (Yen, Bryan, & Tang, 2010). Since many curfews, like Baltimore’s, regulate weekend hours, this statute change has the potential to help limit the weekday–weekend bedtime discrepancy. Further, setting limits on how late juveniles can stay out in public may help adolescents develop more regular and earlier bedtime routines. Additional research is needed to determine whether Baltimore’s juvenile curfew, as well as others across the country, has this effect. A second area for future research that has been neglected by the literature is an assessment of how juveniles perceive juvenile curfews in Baltimore and elsewhere. While past research has devoted attention to the effects of curfews on risk behaviors and changes in law enforcement practice, self- report or interview-based research is lacking. We do not, for instance, know whether juveniles perceive these laws as fair or unfair. We do not know how many youth break curfew without being detected by law enforcement. Though daytime curfew violation may be likely to be detected by schools, parents may not report nighttime curfew violation to police, particularly if they disagree with the fairness or necessity of the curfew itself. Addressing these areas of uncertainty may provide valuable information for law enforcement and policy makers attempting to assess effectiveness, implementation challenges, as well as other areas of need for juveniles in regard to curfew statutes.


Several caveats to the results of this study are in order, beyond those previously noted. First, this study uses police arrest counts as the primary outcome. Unfortunately, many crimes go unreported each year. According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, approximately 52% of violent victimizations went unreported between the years 2006 and 2010 (Langton, Berzofsky, & Smiley- McDonald, 2012). Further, 60 % of property crime victimizations were not reported to police in 2010 (Langton et al., 2012). Though the number of unreported crimes has decreased for many types of crime (Langton et al., 2012), police-based data still suffer from this limitation. Second, Baltimore’s change to its juvenile curfew statutes is quite recent. As a result, future research is needed to assess long-term trends with accuracy.


Criminal Justice Review

Third, the data do not include arrests processed through Baltimore’s juvenile booking facilities. This means that only juveniles who were proces sed in Baltimore’s adult booking facility are included in the data. Those processed exclusively within the juvenile system are not available in the data. It is possible that arrests processed through the juvenile booking facilities have changed as a result of the curfew or that the juvenile cases processed through central intake are unique in some way. Future research including all juvenile arrests is needed to more fully assess this possibility. Fourth, this study did not examine crime trends in other cities at the time of Baltimore’s curfew change. As a result, this study cannot fully rule out the possibility that the observed results occurred not as the result of a curfew change but as the result of concurrent national or regional trends. Lastly, the present study examines the effect of a change in curfew statutes rather than the implementation of a curfew statute for the first time. As a result, the present study is not directly comparable to studies testing the effects of newly implemented juvenile curfews. The present study can only speak to the effects of increasing the strictness of juvenile curfews.


Since the 1990s, juvenile curfew statutes have become increasingly prevalent in cities across the United States. Large cities like Baltimore, Houston, Los Angeles, and New Orleans all have juvenile curfew statutes in some form. Despite their popularity, juvenile curfew statutes have received a fair amount of criticism based on concerns of constitutionality (Curtis, 2014) and effectiveness. The existing research finds mixed evidence for their effectiveness in reducing juvenile offending or crime overall. Baltimore, however, changed its curfew statutes to be among the strictest in the nation in 2014. The present study found evidence that this change resulted in an increase in the ratio of youth to adult arrests occurring during curfew hours. What remains unclear is why. What aspect of the curfew changes had this effect? What impact, if any, did Baltimore’s curfew centers have on these effects? Or police behavior? Though the present study could not address these questions, the results indicate that changes to existing curfew regulations can have significant impact in the communities they affect. Further investigation is needed to address the long-term consequences of these changes.

Declaration of Conflicting Interests

The author declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


The author received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


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Author Biography

Lacey N. Wallace is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice at Penn State Altoona. Her research interests include juvenile delinquency, weapon carrying and gun ownership, as well as the effects of intervention and policy on these processes.