ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) – Gov. Susana Martinez voiced her support Monday for letting communities decide for themselves whether to impose and enforce curfews for teens, saying such measures can be an important tool for keeping youngers on the right track.
The governor issued her comments as the Albuquerque City Council prepared to discuss at Monday night’s meeting whether to push for legislation that would give local governments across New Mexico the authority to enact curfews.
Even though the next legislative session is dedicated to budget and tax issues, Martinez said the question of local curfews will be added to her call for the 30-day session that begins in January.
The governor’s office said it has discussed the issue with Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry and Councilor Ken Sanchez, who would like the city to return to a curfew similar to one used during the 1990s.
That curfew, which prohibited anyone under 17 from being out after 11 p.m. on weeknights or midnight on weekends, was struck down in court after a challenge by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Sanchez and others have said they are concerned about public safety following a string of violent crimes involving young people.
“It’s just very tragic and unfortunate, especially when you’re hearing 14-year-olds, 15-year-olds losing their lives and they’re out after midnight. They’re out after 2 in the morning,” Sanchez recently told reporters.
Critics argued that parents should enforce curfews, not the government.
City Councilor Dan Lewis is among those who don’t support the effort to seek a change in state law.
“While I am very concerned about the recent outbreak of violence, much of it at the hands of young people, I don’t believe that criminalizing all young people for the acts of a few is the way to solve the problem,” he said in a statement issued before Monday’s council meeting.
Lewis suggested the next legislative session focus more on tightening loopholes that “let real criminals back our streets.”