Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

DC Mayor Launches Teen Curfew Program

CW: This article references/discusses gun violence. Please refer to the end of the article for on- and off-campus resources.

The District of Columbia launched a pilot program Sept. 1 that subjects teens to a strictly enforced nighttime curfew in seven neighborhoods to limit teens’ movement and deter youth criminal activity.

The program sets an 11 p.m. weekday and 12:01 a.m. weekend curfew for youth under age 17 in select areas of the District: the Chinatown and Navy Yard neighborhoods; the U Street NW area; streets around Howard University in the Banneker area; 14th Street NW; Georgia Avenue NW; Benning Road SE; and Congress Street SE. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s (D) choice to take steps toward the curfew’s enforcement follows recent crime among teenagers in D.C. 

Thus far in 2023, 13 children under 18 have been killed in D.C., over 80 have been shot and hundreds more have been charged with violent crimes. Homicides have increased by 26 percent in D.C. over this time last year.

The city government chose these areas specifically because they have seen a rise in youth crime over the summer, according to the mayor’s office.

“Focus areas were selected by MPD and cover neighborhoods that have experienced a substantial increase in the number of young people involved in criminal conduct such as robberies or carjackings over the summer,” a press release on Mayor Bowser’s website reads.

The curfew has attracted particular attention following the killing of 16-year-old Naima Liggon outside a U Street NW McDonald’s, reportedly in a dispute over sweet-and-sour sauce. The neighborhood where Liggon was fatally stabbed is within the new U Street curfew area.

Bowser said the program will help ensure children’s safety.

“I’ve shared before that when I was young, my father used to tell me: there’s nothing good in the street after 11 o’clock,” Bowser said in the press release. “We want our kids home, we want them safe, and if they’re not – we want families working with us to get their kids the help that they need.”

The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) will bring teens violating the curfew to the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS), where they will stay overnight before returning to their parents or guardians. The DYRS will also connect families with rehabilitative resources there, according to Lindsey Appiah, the deputy mayor for public safety and justice.

“Our goal is to engage with young people and their families before that happens and to provide them with the kinds of interventions that we know help,” Appiah said in an Aug. 31 press release. “This pilot will offer us one tool to do just that.”

DC Mayor’s Office | High levels of youth crime led D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to change policies related to night time curfews.

Under previous policy, teens violating curfew were brought to MPD stations, where officers remained with them until an adult could collect them. By freeing officers from this responsibility through drop-offs at the DYRS, the new program will allow officers to continue patrolling during critical hours, as they will no longer have to wait with the youth they detain, according to the press release.  

However, the understaffed DYRS has struggled, historically, to meet capacity demands. In spring 2023, staffing shortages led to DYRS keeping minors in confinement for longer than the legal limit, which is six hours.

Mayor Bowser’s office assured Washington Post columnist Colbert I. King that the facility now has the capacity to handle all detained youths. 

Elizabeth Rivabem (CAS ’26) said she opposes the program because of its broad designations of illegal youth movement.

“I find this new program to be quite problematic,” Rivabem told The Hoya “It seems that there may be some socio-economic or racial profiling underlying these curfew designations. It should not be a decision of the state to determine if youth can be outside and at what hours. We don’t know, different people have different reasons for being outside.”

A 2015 study on curfew’s impact on gun violence in the District found that curfews were “ambiguous” in curbing crime. 

Abigail Becker (CAS ’27), a first-year at Georgetown University, believes that the program will be ineffective and difficult to enforce. Becker is 17.

“Honestly, I don’t think a curfew will be that effective, seeing as I haven’t heard anything about it, and it might be difficult to enforce because people don’t carry their IDs on them at all times,” Becker wrote to The Hoya. “For that reason, while I think the concept of limiting youth crime is great, it would be better for the city to spend its money elsewhere and not on curfew programs.”

Becker said she worried that the curfew could limit her ability to explore Washington as a first-year student.

“As a 17-year-old college student who has many 18-year-old friends, I’m worried that it could limit me from spending time with them and fully engaging in all that DC has to offer,” Becker wrote.

Rivabem said the mayor’s office has not communicated enough regarding why the program is necessary. 

“I want to understand better why this program was put in place. I think something like this has to be extremely well-researched and justified,” Rivabem said. “I’m not a fan of it, and I’m sure there are many people who are not fans of it.”

Between Sept. 1 and Sept. 5, four juveniles were found in violation of curfew.

Bowser said the curfew will ultimately only affect a small population of D.C. teenagers and is designed to ultimately ensure their safety.

“The vast majority of our young people are doing the right thing – they are back in school, they are involved in extracurriculars, and in the evenings and at night, they are where they need to be – supervised and safe,” Bowser said in the press release. “But we need that to be true for all of our young people, and if we have kids and teenagers who are not in safe situations, we need to connect with those families.”

Resources: On-campus resources include Health Education Services (202-687-8949) and Counseling and Psychiatric Services (202-687-6985). Additional off-campus resources include the Crisis Text Line (text 741741).

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  • G

    GUAlumDCSep 14, 2023 at 2:15 pm

    Thank you for this well-written and informative article.

  • H

    hoyalumSep 12, 2023 at 10:20 am

    Elizabeth Rivabem’s comment is thoughtless, reckless and dangerous. Sounds like no special solutions can be tailored to high crime areas which might happen to be Black. Attitudes like that are divisive harm the Black community.