Results of curfew diversion pilot program encouraging
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and The Link recently completed a curfew diversion pilot program and the results are encouraging, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced Thursday at a news conference.
On June 1, the County Attorney’s Office and The Link/Juvenile Supervision Center began the pilot program to divert all curfew cases from court unless the youth had a pending juvenile delinquency case in court. Of the 313 cases handled between June and November 21, two-thirds were deferred to The Link who followed up with the child and his or her parents.
“We don’t want children in the system. Once they are in, it can have consequences that tarnish their reputations, their records and it can lead to more crime down the road,” said Freeman. “Instead, we want these kids to get real alternatives that get them off the streets late at night and get them changing their behavior.
Prior to starting the pilot program, when juveniles were picked up for being out on the streets in Hennepin County late at night, they could receive a ticket. The juvenile court system would log in the child’s name and there would be a record, but if the child did not appear in court, no warrant was issued. But that juvenile’s name would remain on the books and if he or she was arrested for some other juvenile infraction, then the curfew violation would come back into play.
“This pilot is so important because it addresses barriers youth face rather than taking punitive measures,” said Beth Holger-Ambrose, Executive Director of The Link. “When young people are out past curfew, it is generally because they, or their parents, are unaware of the laws, or the kids have issues, which are causing them to be out at night. Our goal is to intervene early so that a curfew violation does not grow into a bigger problem,”
It is not coincidence that the results of the pilot program are being shared just three days before Martin Luther King’s birthday. Dr. King was aware then, as we are today, that too many youth of color are being dragged into the juvenile justice system. This program can make an impact on the lives of young people and help break that pipeline.
Over the course of the pilot project, our office and our partners routinely discussed ways to improve outcomes. For example, the folks at the Juvenile Supervision Center were able to make contact with the parents only 54 percent of the time because accurate contact information was a significant barrier. However, the contact rate is improving. The curfew diversion program will continue and we will keep working together to make it stronger in order to keep youth out of the juvenile justice system.
Curfew pilot program results
News conference video