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Comment Archives: stories: News & Opinion: Letters

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"After stepping up curfew enforcement in the mid-1990s, San Jose did not experience a decline in youth crime or juvenile violent deaths.
....
San Jose's curfew is enforced disproportionately on Latino youth."

From the above, isn't it possible that most of the crime in San Jose was being committed by non-Latino and/or non-youth, making the curfew ineffective due at least partially to the way it was enforced?

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 11:12 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Here's a comparison of youth curfews in two major Bay Area cities (it comes from the same study I cited in the original story):

"San Jose/San Francisco. This is a case study of "curfew extremes" in neighboring large cities. San Francisco vigorously enforced its curfew, with more than 1,400 arrests in the 1987-90 period. It then cut back arrests in the early 1990s and nearly abandoned the curfew altogether (two arrests in 1995-97). San Jose went in the opposite direction: compared to just nineteen curfew arrests in the entire 1987-94 period, police stepped up curfew enforcement to arrest more than 1,600 youth in 1995-97. It would be hard to find two cities whose curfew enforcement policies contrast more sharply. Sixty correlations between curfew arrest rates and rates of youth and adult arrest, crime reported to police, and youth and adult violent death were conducted for the years 1985 through mid-1998. The results show that:

San Francisco did not experience an increase in youth crime or juvenile violent deaths after abandoning its curfew in the 1990s.

After stepping up curfew enforcement in the mid-1990s, San Jose did not experience a decline in youth crime or juvenile violent deaths.

Comparatively, San Francisco's downward trend in youth and in overall crime rates in the 1990s were more favorable than San Jose's.

San Jose's curfew is enforced disproportionately on Latino youth. Compared to youth of other races/ethnicities, Latino youth are five times more likely to be arrested for curfew than their representation in the youth population. Moreover, they are two to three times more likely to be arrested for curfew than their contribution to youth crime would lead one to expect.

When all crimes and time periods rather than selective ones are considered, there is no evidence that San Jose's curfew had a beneficial effect, and no evidence that San Francisco's curfew abandonment had a negative effect, on youth crime, crime in general, or youth safety from violent death."

Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/22/2011 at 10:52 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Max-i pulled the page i referenced for you however, best to read the entire publication as it is very current October 2010; US Dept of Justice report on Best Practice to Address Community Gang Problems ranked activities implemented in 6 metro areas -- you will see that there are 2 areas that have had the most effective impact-- below is a copy but may be difficult for you to read in this format.

Table A1: Program Implementation Characteristics: Degree of Importance and Levels of Implementation
Program Implementation Characteristics
Degree of Importance to Program Success†
Levels of Implementation by Project Site‡
Chicago
Mesa
Riverside
Bloomington-Normal
San Antonio
Tucson
Program Elements (Structure)
City/County Leadership
***
2
4
4
1
1
1
Steering Committee
**
1
4
3
1
1
0
Interagency Street Team/Coordination
***
4
4
3
0
0
0
Grassroots Involvement
*
3
1
1
0
1
0
Social Services: Youth Work, Individual Counseling, Family Treatment, and Recreation
**
3
3
3
2
3
3
Criminal Justice Participation
***
4
4
4
1
1
0
School Participation
**
1
3
3
3
2
0
Employment and Training
**
3
1
4
3
1
0
Lead Agency/Management/Commitment
***
4
4
4
0
0
0
Strategies
Social Intervention: Outreach and Crisis Intervention
**
4
3
3
1
1
0
Community Mobilization: Interagency and Grassroots
**
1
3
2
1
0
0
Provision of Social Opportunities: Education, Job, and Culture
**
3
2
2
2
1
0
Suppression
***
4
4
3
0
0
0
Organizational Change and Development
***
2
4
4
0
0
0
Operating Principles
Targeting Gang Members/ At-Risk Gang Youth
***
4
2
3
1
3
3
Balance of Service
***
4
3
3
0
0
0
Intensity of Service
*
4
3
3
1
0
0
Continuity of Service
**
2
1
2
2
0
2
Source: Spergel, Wa, and Sosa, 2006, pp. 216–217
†Importance of characteristic to success: ***=extremely, **=moderately, *=somewhat
‡Levels of implementation: 4=excellent, 3=good, 2=fair, 1=poor, 0=none

You can go to the USDept of Justice for the publication as this makes it difficult to read.

Posted by ZRobinette on 09/22/2011 at 10:48 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Also, I would assume that statisticians already made the comparison with other cities and found there was not a similar drop in crime in cities not subject to the curfews. I assume they're not fresh off the turnip truck and they know at least as much about how to conduct these experiments as a journalist does. But if they didn't, I'd ask again for Bob to show me the crime drop in similar cities not subject to the curfew. That's the evidence *I* need for me to believe the curfews did *not* work.

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 10:36 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

What I meant by "controlled experiment" is that you can't separate out adults from youth as as control group, i.e., the group that was not subject to the curfew.

These groups mix with each other. You can't claim that a drop in adult crime after a youth curfew proves the youth curfew didn't work because there was a drop in adult crime as well. The adults didn't receive "the drug" but they received the indirect effects of it.

This also applies to cities. Even if crime drops in city A after a curfew in next-door-city B, it doesn't mean the curfew was ineffective because crime dropped in city A "anyway." The curfew could have had an indirect effect on city B.

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 10:33 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"Of course it's impossible to have a controlled experiment with this a la FDA testing a new drug."

Actually, it's not. If New Orleans, for example, experienced a similar or higher drop in adult crime than in youth crime for the same period, then you wouldn't be able to say that's proof that curfews work.

Or, if Baton Rouge also experienced a similar drop in juvenile crime during the same time and didn't have a curfew, then again, you wouldn't be able to you say that youth curfews caused the drop in juvenile crime in New Orleans, because of what happened in Baton Rouge.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/22/2011 at 10:22 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"Without that data, you can't attribute drops in juvenile crime to curfews."

But those numbers are pretty dramatic. The question for me is, why are you, Bob, so intent on seeing the possibility that the curfews didn't work, rather than the (strong, IMO) possibility that they did have some effect in these dramatic reductions in crime in all three cities?

Of course it's impossible to have a controlled experiment with this a la FDA testing a new drug. Age groups are going to mix with each other. Youth don't associate only with other youth - people near the age boundary are likely to associate with adults as well. The same goes for city boundaries. None of this is hard science and you can always claim the numbers don't really "prove" anything. Did you look up the reductions in crime (if any) in the surrounding cities in order to show that the curfews didn't do anything in the three cities cited? DId all of the surrounding cities have their crime drop by a quarter? Failing *that* evidence, I tend to believe the curfews had an effect.

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 10:14 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Oh, so the youth curfews helped with adult crime too? Or are you saying that because adult crime dropped too, the curfews are inconsequential? Or are you saying that nobody can prove anything?

Another thing your article doesn't address adequately is that there are many different kinds of curfews, some raising more issues of fairness than others.

In Long Beach, for instance, the curfew is not an absolute ban on youth being out from 10pm to 6am. It only bars people under 18 from loitering between 10pm and 6am. If a 17 year old is enroute from point a to point b, they aren't in violation.

Long Beach also enforces anti-youth loitering rules during school hours as a means of fighting truancy.

There are also various levels of escalation and means of enforcement. Once a curfew has been in place for a few months, it's likely that cops will be able to send kids home simply by telling them they can go home or be detained.

It sounds like what New Orleans did was too hardcore, but the Long Beach model seems much more reasonable.

Posted by Max A on 09/22/2011 at 10:11 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"That is Data. Not polling."

But this report does not say whether these cities also experienced drops in adult crime during the same period. Moreover, it doesn't say whether other nearby cities that don't have curfews also experienced drops in juvenile crime at the same time.

Without that data, you can't attribute drops in juvenile crime to curfews.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/22/2011 at 10:00 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

It's hard to tease out which tools "worked" and which didn't as part of a larger strategy. Curfews were part of Bratton's overall strategy in NY. But in any case, he has come out strongly in favor of them and even expanded them to include younger ages. You can google him or read the DallyMail piece or listen to his recent NPR interview.

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 9:55 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Here's the link again: http://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/reform/ch2_c.htm…

If you read the DOJ document I linked to closely, you'll see that 3 police departments, Dallas, Long Beach, and New Orleans, reported that they had DATA indicating crime going down after imposing youth curfews.

New Orleans Curfew: "decreasing the incidence of youth crime arrests by 27 percent the year after its adoption."

Long Beach Curfew: "The ordinance led to a 14-percent decrease in the average number of crimes committed per hour in 1994, compared with 1993. Gang-related shootings decreased in that time period as well, down nearly 23 percent."

Dallas: "For example, 3 months after the enactment of the Dallas curfew ordinance, the Dallas Police Department found that juvenile victimization during curfew hours declined by 17.7 percent and juvenile arrests during curfew hours dropped by 14.6 percent, according to the recent OJJDP report."

That is Data. Not polling.

Posted by Max A on 09/22/2011 at 9:53 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"But what about individual cases, then? You cite only the cases where they haven't worked."

Again, I haven't seen evidence of any individual cases in which curfews "worked" in that they lowered juvenile crime in comparison to adult crime or juvenile crime rates in other cities that did not have curfews.

Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/22/2011 at 9:52 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Bob, Thanks.:)
Yoyo-g

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 9:44 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Yoyo, g,

I didn't address gang injunctions in my comment because my story wasn't about gang injunctions. I haven't researched the issue, so I'm not clear as to whether they work or not.

But I wouldn't be surprised if there is evidence that they are effective. The reason is that they're much different than curfews, because they target specific people who have a known track record for committing crimes, and thus are more likely than the general population to break the law.

Also, police spokeswoman Holly Joshi made it abundantly clear that even if Chief Batts had been in town and available for comment for my story, he likely would not have wanted to be interviewed because he had not yet come up with a revised plan for how OPD would implement and enforce a curfew in light of budget cutbacks.



Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/22/2011 at 9:38 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

p.s. re "The study I cited does analyze these issues, and concluded that there is no evidence that curfews work. I'm also unaware of any other study that took these factors into account and still found that curfews are effective."

OK, fair enough. I read right over that and mea culpa. But what about individual cases, then? You cite only the cases where they haven't worked.

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 9:29 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Bob, Thanks for that (but the link yields "internal server error" - can you re-post?). I still don't think it's fair to say (as you more than once have said) that there's "no evidence" that they don't work (or worse, as you said once, simply that they "don't work"). You personally simply have not found any evidence that they.

It seems also that we're mixing curfews with gang injunctions. With regard to GIs, why not mention cases, like the dramatic case of New York and Bill Bratton, where GIs arguably *have* worked? Bratton believes in both curfews and GIs and is on record saying so. With his dramatic track record in NY, he seems pretty credible to me. But not you? What's wrong with Bratton IYO?

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 9:28 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

"Here's the second hit you get when you google "Long Beach Curfew Law". It's a little further down the page if you only google "Long Beach Curfew", but it's still on the first page.

http://www.ojjdp.gov/pubs/reform/ch2_c.htm…"

If you read this report closely, you'll find that it's nothing more than a poll. The researchers asked police departments if curfews worked, and then cited statistics supposedly showing that they did work. But as my story originally noted, such studies do not stand up to scrutiny, because they do not reveal whether cities that experienced drops in juvenile crime after adopting curfews also experienced drops in adult crime. If they did, then you can't attribute the drop in juvenile crime to curfews.

Such polls also do not analyze whether other cities that do not have curfews also experienced drops in juvenile crime.

In short, polls such as this one are not scientifically credible.

The study I cited does analyze these issues, and concluded that there is no evidence that curfews work. I'm also unaware of any other study that took these factors into account and still found that curfews are effective.


Posted by Robert Gammon on 09/22/2011 at 9:18 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Max, True. I realized that too late....We could start pver again there. :)

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 9:14 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

These comments would be better on the article itself. They'll be read more often when people search for curfew issue.

Posted by Max A on 09/22/2011 at 9:12 AM

Re: “Letters for the Week of September 21

Z, Can you please pull out the sentences(s) you refer to and quote them here? The pdf is evidently so big that clicking on the link didn't work for me...thx

Posted by yoyo_guru on 09/22/2011 at 8:54 AM

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