August 18, 2015

Coming in 2016 session: Debate on curfews for kids

It’s only August, but a high-profile topic in the 2016 legislative session is already getting discussed.

Blue LightsLegislators will consider a law to allow local municipalities to enforce a curfew on teenagers. Since 2016 is a short session, just 30 days, any non-budget topic must be approved by Gov. Susana Martinez.

Martinez made the announcement on Monday. The Albuquerque city council on Monday evening tabled a proposal to ask the state to allow the city add a teen curfew. Ken Sanchez, who sponsored the legislation, said Martinez pledge to put it on the call for hte session fulfilled what his legislation would have done.

From the Albuquerque Journal:

Martinez said Monday that she supports letting communities decide whether to impose curfews and plans to include a curfew measure to her call for the 30-day session that begins in January. Martinez said she made the decision after speaking with Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and Sanchez.

Martinez said curfews would provide communities with a tool to help them combat juvenile crime.

At this point, state law does not allow local municipalities to enforce curfews.

Though it does have the support of some city councilors and the governor, that doesn’t mean that everyone agrees with such a curfew.

The Southwest Organizing Project opposes a curfew and is circulating a petition against its passage.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico also showed their opposition to the reimposition of a curfew.

The ACLU successfully challenged the city ordinance in 1995. The State Supreme Court ruled in 1999 the ordinance conflicted with state law and violated childrens’ due process rights.

Legislation to reinstate curfew ordinances is not new. Every year from 1996, when the online records start on the New Mexico Legislature’s website, until 2005 there was at least one piece of legislation related to curfews introduced. Former State Rep. Dennis Kintigh introduced such legislation in 2011 and 2012.

No such attempts have occurred in the last three legislative sessions.