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Abstract

Most crimes committed in the United States occur in cities, and a large proportion of these crimes are committed by juveniles under the age of eighteen. Although the total number of reported Crime Index offenses decreased slightly in 1982, surveys of popular attitudes toward crime show an increased fear of crime, especially among persons living in urban areas. One way states have addressed this challenge is by enacting nonemergency juvenile curfew amendments. This Note examines these amendments recently enacted in Trenton and Newark, New Jersey, and the Detroit, Michigan, ordinance which has recently been strictly enforced as part of a publicized anticrime campaign. This Note then examines the conflicting federal and state court decisions which have considered the constitutionality of various curfew ordinances. This Note goes on to suggest that even a carefully drafted nonemergency juvenile curfew unduly infringes upon a minor's liberty interests protected by the due process clause of the fourteenth amendment. It concludes that state or local governments should be given the power to enact curfews and other measures only in emergency situations. Should the delinquency problem in nonemergency situations prove overly difficult to control, local governments should also be empowered to enact a properly drafted loitering ordinance, such as one based on the Model Penal Code draft, which would enhance law enforcement agencies' efforts in preventing delinquency without unduly infringing upon a minor's liberty interests.

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