Baltimore's Bold New Curfew Law

ABC News' Byron Pitts and the "This Week" powerhouse roundtable on Baltimore's strict new curfew.
7:01 | 08/10/14

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Transcript for Baltimore's Bold New Curfew Law
? We're back with the political uproar after a major American city takes a drastic step to make streets safer. But, is a curfew best and fairest way to bring down youth crime? ABC's chief national correspondent Byron Pitts now on the front lines in his hometown of Baltimore. Reporter: It's been years now since HBO's "The wire" was on television. Creating a reputation the city of Baltimore is still trying to live down. So far, this year, relative good news -- the overall murder rate is down. But no one is celebrating. In part, because the number of young people dieing is up. So, what's a cash-strapped city to do? Thus far, the public has not liked the answer. Considered one of the most restrictive in the nation, Baltimore has upgraded its curfew law. 14 to 16-year-olds by 10:00 weekdays. 11:00 P.M. On weekends. Parents or guardians could face fines of up to $500. But it's not the fines or hours that bother civil liberties group, from your perspective, what's wrong with having a curfew? I think it's offering a chance to criminalize children. Reporter: But the Baltimore mayor insists that's not her goal. To see how often children are unsupervised well into the night. When the street lights came on, you were supposed to be in the house. Somebody, some adult needed to know where you were, period. Now they're turning into civil right issues for kids. Reporter: You sound more like a parent than a politician when you talk about this issue. I'm a mother. It broke my heart going to that curfew center, seeing 6-year-olds, 7-year-olds coming in there. They're not there by choice. Reporter: Part of the pushback that I have heard from people that once you introduce children to the criminal justice system in any form or fashion that you begin to criminalize them? That's nonsense. Reporter: A city councilman proposed a new curfew, which includes youth centers, where police will bring the children until a parent or guardian is located. Making it a common sense -- we're making it about helping not criminalizing. Reporter: The response from teenagers on the street was about what you would expect. Why? It's summertime. Why can't we stand on the block. Reporter: More than teenage bravado. Seen as part of the problem, enforcing the new curfew law will be a challenge. I'm here to reform our organization, I'm here to change the dynamics of what is happening or will happen in the future. Reporter: Perhaps the real test for this old American city in my beloved hometown will come in the months to come. Not only to keep the kids off the street but put them on the road safer and productive lives. For "This week," Byron Pitts, ABC news, Baltimore. Thanks, Byron. The roundtable is here now. ESPN's lz Granderson, who is also a CNN contributor. Sheryl Atkinson. ABC political analyst Matthew dowd and cokie Roberts. Welcome to you all. Matthew, the Baltimore solution, it's not an easy thing to implement. Do you think it gets to the root of the problem? My mother always said nothing good happens after 10:00 at night. Don't be out anyway. That was 40 years ago. I worry about this. Obviously, parents and everyone wants to protect their children in the midst of violent crimes in these cities. We tended now toward a much more militarized police force. We also now are empowering them with the tools that we only used to use with the military. Trucks, guns -- all those sort of things. To me, this is a responsibility of parents, obviously, who are not necessarily dealing with it. I worry giving too much power to police. Lz, does it really say, stop and frisk everyone? Are you worried that it goes to that? Absolutely. I don't understand how in a country where we have seen vigilantes running around, enforcing their own laws, shooting unarmed black people, we just saw the NYPD chokehold a man to death. How you can pass this curfew -- Come on, they do look young because they are young and it's very interesting. The people who are for this curfew are the moms. The moms are absolutely for it. Because they want their kids to be safe. You know what, in my neighborhood, the National Guard would be there. So, I just think it's giving the moms in unsafe situations the ability to keep it safe. Sheryl, can you make the moms more responsible? I think it's a tough situation. I would tend to local communities to work out. As a parent, I wouldn't have a problem with a curfew. In Tampa, didn't criminalize and returned them to the parents or a supervised setting. Lz, I want to turn, all over the place here, because there's so much happening, but I want to the ncaa decisions, and what effect you think this will really have? Well, if there was a jenga puzzle, that would be the main peg that's pulled away. Well, the fact of the matter is, sports generalists have been clamoring about what they have seen as immorality of the ncaa for years. There's now a law brought down by a judge to give sports even more ammo. You'll find a congressman or a congresswoman who will want to take this issue up on the hill because they want to get re-elected. And it will force the ncaa hand. Quickly, we got to move on, we'll talk about Nixon in a moment. Tony Stewart, there was a very tragic accident, the race car driver he killed another driver, after the car spun out, he's going to be back driving 12 hours later? If NASCAR wants to have a good look, they wouldn't allow that man to get back on the road. It's not good optics for your sport.

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