MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and non-profit The Link are continuing a curfew diversion pilot program aimed at giving children who break curfew resources instead of a ticket.
The program started in June of 2016 and diverts all curfew cases from court unless the youth already had a pending juvenile delinquency case.
Of 313 cases handled between June 1 and November 21, two-thirds were deferred to The Link who followed up with the child and his or her parents.
Before the program, children caught breaking the county’s curfew would be ticketed. The juvenile’s name would remain on the books, and if the child was arrested for some other juvenile infraction, then the curfew violation would come back into play.
In a news conference on Thursday morning, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said the new program aims to get to the bottom of why a child would be out on the streets after curfew and address those underlying issues.
“It is often a window into functions in the family that need to be worked upon,” Freeman said.
Executive Director of The Link Beth Holger-Ambrose said her organization provides resources to people facing setbacks like homelessness and substance abuse. Holger-Ambrose said the pilot program led her staff to discover many of the children out past curfew were dealing with similar issues at home.
“None of these young people that are out violating curfew are bad kids,” Holger-Ambrose said. “They’re amazing, resilient, smart and they have goals for themselves.”
The hope is by starting the work at home, the program can help stop children from having more run-ins with the law as they grow older.
13-year-old Elzie Brandon who is in the program said he has made a lot of progress since he began.
He was assigned a caseworker who will work over time with him and his family.
“I get along better with my mom and get to hang with my caseworker,” Brandon said.
Curfew times often vary by county or city and can be found on those websites.
As the program continues, the Hennepin county attorney said there is more work to do.
The county reports of the children caught out past curfew, the program was only able to get a hold of any parents a little more than half the time.