Sick Councilman’s Vote Rescues Curfew Plan
A controversial ordinance that would set a daytime curfew for school-age youths almost died in a City Council workshop Monday, but it was rescued at the last moment when an ill councilman dragged himself in for the vote.
Councilman Donald L. Bone, who had not attended the session because he was sick in bed, came in after another council member called and told him his vote was vital to keep the curfew issue alive.
The council then voted 3 to 2 to move the ordinance forward and put it on the Oct. 7 agenda for an official vote.
“We have been kicking this around hard, hard, hard,” Councilman Don Griffin said. “We need to make a decision one way or the other.”
A countywide curfew was proposed earlier this year by a group of prosecutors and police chiefs, who said it would give them a means of controlling crimes committed by juveniles.
Minors between the ages of 6 and 18 would be restricted from being in any public place except school from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on weekdays.
If caught playing hooky, students would be subject to a range of fines, beginning at $100 for a first offense.
Students would have the option of performing community service, but their parents might be compelled to attend parenting classes, depending on a judge’s discretion.
The law would include a variety of acceptable reasons for being in public during school hours. But many still argue that the law would infringe on the constitutional rights of minors.
Council members are divided on the issue.
Mayor Patsy Marshall and Councilman Jerry Sigler argue that police already are overburdened without taking on truancy issues that they say belongs to the schools.
Councilmen Art Brown, Griffin and Bone say that the law could reasonably cut down on daytime crime.