The American Civil Liberties Union of Connecticut has warned the Bridgeport City Council that a proposed curfew would violate the constitutional rights of young people.
The youth curfew under discussion is similar to one in Vernon that the ACLU of Connecticut challenged successfully in federal court in 2003 "and is no more likely to withstand a constitutional challenge," Staff Attorney David McGuire wrote last week in a letter to Bridgeport City Council members, Mayor Bill Finch and other city officials.
The city council has been discussing a youth curfew since shortly after the fatal shooting of 14-year-old Justin Thompson in January. This week a council subcommittee decided to hold the proposal for further discussion and possible revision.
In his letter, McGuire told the council that the curfew proposal is not only constitutionally suspect, but would also be ineffective at curbing crime.
"Curfews divert scarce police resources away from fighting crime by saddling police with the burden of rounding up and investigating young people who are not causing any trouble," he wrote. "Detaining young people when there's no suspicion of a crime is not only ineffective, it will unnecessarily pull innocent youth into the criminal justice system."
McGuire urged the council to reject the proposal and "avoid the cost of defending this curfew in court." The ACLU of Connecticut is ready to represent anyone whose rights are violated by a curfew, he said.