San Marcos repeals its juvenile curfew. Community members had warned against implementing it.
The San Marcos City Council voted Tuesday to officially repeal its juvenile curfew. The decision comes ahead of a state law going into effect next month that prohibits local jurisdictions from having them.
Eric Martinez, Mano Amiga's executive and policy director, said he's glad the curfew was repealed, even if it took efforts from outside San Marcos.
"Using the force of law to interact with someone who's young and underage is setting up a future for uneasy community relationships," he said.
Lawmakers had argued juvenile curfews are an ineffective way to reduce crime and can negatively impact kids in school and in future interactions with the justice system.
Sam Benavides, communications director with advocacy group Mano Amiga, said she remembers having a curfew when she grew up in Laredo. Sometimes she would stay up late with her friends and walk to the nearby McDonald's. One time, she said, police officers approached them.
"It was really scary," she said. "Officers did question and intimidate us. It's just a really negative interaction with law enforcement for anyone, especially young people."
Under San Marcos' ordinance, kids between the ages of 10 and 17 could be fined $50 for being in public during restricted overnight hours and during school.
There were exceptions to the ordinance, such as if the minor had an excused absence from school, employment or an emergency situation.
In December, Benavides and dozens of community members urged the City Council not to renew the curfew, arguing it disproportionately impacts Black and Hispanic youth.
Police Chief Stan Standridge said the ordinance was one of many tools used to keep kids safe. During a presentation in December, he told City Council members there was no racial disparity in citations issued for violating the curfew. However, two-thirds of citations between 2017 and 2022 were given to Hispanic minors.
"Instead of heeding our concerns and ending the harmful policy, they did vote 5-2 for its approval," Martinez said. "Now they're shamefully forced to rescind it."
He said he hopes this is a step in the right direction to decriminalize communities and approach public safety in a healthy way.