Teenagers and children in New Mexico could have curfews imposed on them by their towns under a new law being considered by the state's legislature this week, the Albuquerque Journal reports.
If the bill, which was approved by the New Mexico House, passes the state Senate, it will give cities and counties in New Mexico the power to enact curfews on anyone 15 years old or younger. That would mean they would be restricted from being out on the streets between midnight and 5 a.m., and during school hours.
Critics of the bill say it could lead to racial profiling and criminalizing young people. "I don't think it would be a good message to send to our youth that they are effectively under martial law and that their rights don't apply under certain times of the day," Peter Simonson, a spokesperson for the New Mexico ACLU, told local station KOAT last year when the bill was floated.
Several studies of teen curfews around the country have found that they are not effective in reducing crime rates during curfew hours (in some cases they were actually followed by an increase in crime), but that they usually require greater police resources.
Sponsors say the curfew law is necessary after teenagers were implicated in two crimes in particular last year in Albuquerque, the Associated Press reports:
In June, an Albuquerque man was shot to death in his driveway by what police called a mob of teens involved in a streak of break-ins and auto burglaries.
In July, a 14-year-old student was shot by another teen at an Albuquerque park around 2 a.m.
If towns chose to impose curfews, the law would allow teens to be outside within curfew hours if they are accompanied by a parent of guardian, in transit from home to work or school, or in an emergency, KRQE reports. Albuquerque actually had a curfew law in the '90s for teenagers, according to the station, until the ACLU filed a lawsuit and had it struck down.