Violent crime, particularly homicides, is one of those problems that we’ll perpetually be trying to solve. The total number of murders for the nation could be just one, and we’d still be trying to work to prevent just that one killing.
That’s not, in and of itself, a bad thing. We should work to make society safer for everyone and the goal should be zero homicides.
It’s not realistic, but we should still push as best we can regardless.
Unfortunately, for many, the only possible solution is gun control. In Prince George’s County, Maryland, they’re trying something else.
Prince George’s County officials announced Monday the start of a curfew for people under age 17, which will last 30 days in the wake of the Maryland county experiencing its deadliest month on record in August.
With the county setting records for homicides and carjackings, many committed by juveniles, minors can no longer be out between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. on weeknights unless accompanied by a parent. On Friday and Saturday nights, the curfew kicks in at midnight and will be enforced by the county’s police.
In announcing the curfew, County Executive Angela Alsobrooks noted that 24 homicides took place in Prince George’s last month and said accountability needs to start now.
WRC-TV first reported those numbers Sunday and noted it was the highest monthly number since the county began tracking them in January 2009.
“We have an accountability problem in our county,” Ms. Alsobrooks said. She went on to say later, “What’s clear to us — and I know [this] isn’t rocket science, it’s clear to everyone — that something is not working.”
There have also been 355 reported carjackings, which is also 40 percent higher than this time in 2021.
However, it seems that if you’re looking at 355 carjackings and 24 homicides, then you also need to know just how many were committed by juveniles who would be impacted by the curfew.
The numbers given are…interesting.
Ms. Alsobrooks said that 55 of the 84 juveniles arrested in these cases have a prior offense, 34 have prior gun or violent crimes, and half of all juveniles arrested on carjacking charges are under 15 years old.
In total, 430 juveniles have been arrested on criminal charges in 2022.
If 84 juveniles were arrested for these 379 crimes–both carjackings and homicides–then you’re looking at just over 22 percent of the total offenders being juvenile. And that’s assuming we’re talking one juvenile offender per crime, rather than a couple pulling off a single job together.
The actual percentage is likely to be lower.
So, will a curfew have an impact? I mean, even a 15 percent decrease is going to be viewed as significant, and a curfew sounds like a fairly easy way to deal with the issue.
The problem is, it’s not.
This curfew goes from 10:00 at night until 5:00 in the morning. That means any number of lawful reasons for a teen to be out at that time of night go out the window. There don’t appear to be exceptions for work or school functions, for example.
Then there’s the fact that this inhibits the rights of law-abiding citizens. If we’re going to say kids have a free speech right in our public schools and can stage anti-gun walkout protests, then how can we say they don’t have a right to move freely?
And I guarantee you that those who would rob and kill aren’t going to be dissuaded by the proposed fines of $50, $100, or $150. If a long prison sentence isn’t deterrent enough, neither are piddly little fines.
So I have to give Prince George’s County credit for looking for ways to reduce homicides that don’t involve gun control, but I’m not sure interfering with the rights of an entire segment of people of whom a small percentage are bad actors, but still account for less than a quarter of all violent crimes is the way to go.