DecarceratePA statement against the Philadelphia Youth Curfew (Bill 110633)

On Thursday, October 27th, DecarceratePA joined with many other groups and individuals to testify in front of city coucil against the curfew on youth.  Below is the statement that we read.

This statement was written on behalf of DecarceratePA, a group working to end prison expansion in Pennsylvania. Right now, the state of Pennsylvania is spending $685 million dollars to build three new state prisons and expand nine others. This comes at a time when the state has cut nearly one billion dollars from public education. While we are sure that many of you here on City Council also take issue with the decisions of Governor Corbett, we believe that the curfew on youth and other similar initiatives, such as stop and frisk, validates Corbett’s backwards priorities. Studies have shown that curfews do nothing to reduce crime rates. Making Philadelphia’s curfew laws even more punitive only serves to criminalize young people and their families. It contributes to a cycle of mass incarceration that is devastating both for Philadelphia’s communities and for the economy of our state.

We believe that increased policing does not address the root cause of violence in the city. Instead, it singles out young people, especially young people of color, for police harassment and intimidation. Since January, 10,205 youths have been stopped and 209 cited for curfew violations. While the city has not released demographic information on who is getting stopped and cited, anecdotal reports show that black youth are being disproportionately targeted. Rather than increasing funding for police and prisons, the city needs to put its resources into public education, jobs and job training, social services, libraries and rec centers, all of which have been systemically defunded over the last several years. Young people need resources and opportunities, not costly fines and criminal records. We hope that City Council will take this chance to do the right thing and vote against this dangerous and unproductive policy and we hope that the Mayor will choose to stop extending his racially-segregated emergency curfew and will instead focus on creating real options for young people across our city.