Monday, October 25, 2010

Curfew enforcement: 'Breaking the cycle of crime' or just another money grab?

Corpus Christi will begin charging juveniles arrested for more serious crimes with curfew violations in municipal court, whereas previously when juveniles were charged with other offenses, police hadn't bothered to write the Class C citations. Reports the Caller Times:
[Corpus Christi Police Cmdr. Mark] Schauer said officers got away from issuing the citations for a few reasons, mainly because the criminal offense goes through juvenile district court while a curfew violation is a citation that goes through municipal court. Many officers don’t want to write up two violations, and figure it is easier to hit offenders with the more severe criminal act.

“They just don’t bother with it now, and the thought is there is no reason we can’t hold them more accountable than we are,” Schauer said. “There is a chance a juvenile will get probation or they’ll beat the charge, and then there’s no punishment. But we can fine them for the initial crime and they will have to pay in one way or another.”

Also, if an officer picks up a juvenile, they have to keep them until the child can be released to a guardian or the juvenile curfew center, which recently was moved to a more central location in the Leopard Street Wilson Building. Picking up a juvenile became such a time-consuming process that it was doing more harm than good by keeping officers from answering calls where they were needed, Schauer said.

Schauer plans to put out a memo this week about the new focus, but it will not require a policy change. If a juvenile is detained in the Juvenile Justice Center for a crime, they receive the citation with their property when released. Otherwise they are taken to the Wilson Building where they get their citation while waiting for a guardian — who will have to be present in municipal court when the fine, as much as $569, is paid.
Schauer said police also are within their rights to cite parents for allowing their children to stay out after curfew and for truancy, and they can be subject to as much as a $500 fine.
A local municipal judge makes the dubious claim that this will help "break the cycle of crime."
“By exercising this Class C misdemeanor, we can shut down crime at the most basic level,” [Judge Melissa] Madrigal said. “These are the offenses that they start out with, and then they start doing drugs, breaking into cars, breaking into houses. If we can get a hold on them here in municipal court, they won’t have to go to criminal court, and the city will be safer.”
That doesn't make a lot of sense, though, since the offenders given citations under the new policy have already committed more serious offenses. To me this just sounds like a straight up money grab.


Anonymous said...

I once saw an officer with a major city I won't name wait outside a movie theater and write curfew violation tickets to kids as they walked from the theater to their parents waiting cars. It kind of flies in the face of this argument that these kids will move on to bigger crimes.

Fact is, these cops are hoping that kids busted on BS cases will just give up and pay money on a ticket instead of trying to fight it, thereby earning the city some cash, in theory. Remember, there is still the cost of municipal court, the curfew center, the officer's time if he has to wait to meet a parent, etc.

Anonymous said...

Not much money to be made here. I doubt most of these kids or their parents will come up with the $500 anyway. If they've already committed more serious offenses, they have much more important things to do with their money.

Just smacks of mindless punitivism and political grandstanding.


Anonymous said...

Its more than a ticket...

In some counties (WilCo cough cough) a curfew violation will be more than just a ticket. A curfew violation will involve probation and some type of program or some type of "treatment" which the offender will be financially responsible for.

NCTI is a company that offers various programs/training for law enforcement and treatment providers for offenders of all ages. Just so happens NCTI offers The Curfew Violation Program designed for first time or repeat offenders.

Rick Zinsmeyer, former director of Williamson County TX Community Supervisions and Corrections is the Texas connection for NCTI.

Anonymous said...

is this one of those evidence based - best practices programs i've been reading about? lol

Anonymous said...

Fines in Corpus? They got to be nuts. In many cases, it's like drawing blood from a turnip. Reads like a repeat of the Driver Responsibility nightmare.

Anonymous said...

Why do we continue to make our kids criminals? There was a time when a cop would
call the kids parents about small law breaking incidents. I remember being told to pour the beer out,
put out that cigarette, or dumping pot on the street. Now we haul their little butts in and treat them like second class citizens. Maybe we have too many cops!

Anonymous said...

Pigs today make me sick. They are the true child predators, waiting outside schools and other places children go so they can trounce on them to feed them to the system. Eagerly waiting outside the principal’s office to destroy the next child life. Some even run first offender programs where they ‘groom’ the children to tell them things feeding their insatiable appetite to destroy lives. True child predators, the epitome of dishonesty for the most part the lot of them. I tell my kids never ever trust a cop. Officer friendly is with Santa Clause in the land of nonexistent.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of Wilco... and blood... and turnips... and T is for T-Bird and H is for Haggard, I hear tell there's quite a paper hanging operation going on down there. Seems there's a bunch of folks holed up in a bank in those parts who can swear up a false affidavit quicker than you can say Republic of Texas.

I kid you not.

Anonymous said...

Money grab and make work. If cops in Corpus have time to dick around with this penny-ante crap, then Corpus has too many cops.