The amendment, approved unanimously at a Wednesday meeting, would increase the penalty for the first offense from a minor misdemeanor to a fourth-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $250 and 30 days in jail.
Subsequent offenses would be bumped up from a fourth-degree misdemeanor to a third-degree misdemeanor, with parents facing an up to $500 fine and 60 days in jail.
Under the amended ordinance, parents or guardians could also be made to do community services valued up to $250, up from $100.
The amendment now includes a Wednesday addition from committee member Stephanie Howse-Jones, Ward 7, requiring families of kids who are caught out late to participate in court-mandated intervention programs and calling for analyses of the “root cause” of their delinquency.
Committee Vice Chair Joseph Jones, Ward 1, cast the only dissenting vote, arguing enforcement of those programs could burden the courts.
Committee Chair Michael Polensek, Ward 8, said the city’s municipal court maintains a specialized docket specifically for curfew cases.
What is Cleveland’s curfew for minors?
Children 12 years old or younger can be on city streets, sidewalks parks or any other public place from dusk until dawn, according to the city code.
Kids between the ages of 13 and 14 can’t be out between 9:30 p.m. and 6 a.m. For kids ages 15 and 16, the curfew is between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. For 17-year-olds, it’s midnight and 6 a.m.
The city’s curfew only applies to minors not being supervised by their parents or guardians.
The code establishes parents and guardians “have a duty” to keep their kids from breaking curfew. But they can avoid getting penalized if they can prove they reached out to the juvenile court before the violation or that the minor was on their way to or from work at the time.
Where are the parents?
After a group of kids brutally beat an innocent man and fired guns wildly into the street at a gas station near St. Clair Avenue and East 140th Street, the FOX 8 I-Team sought out the kids’ parents. Police caught a 12-year-old girl among the group.
“She didn’t come home at curfew time when she was supposed to. She wasn’t here,” that girl’s mother told the I-Team. “Got reported missing. So, I left it up to the police. I rode around for about two hours.”
After an 8-year-old was spotted driving a stolen car in Cleveland last month, the I-Team looked into how many curfew violations have been issued in recent years. There were 30 tickets issued in 2021 and 56 in 2022. As of mid-August, there were 35 tickets issued this year.
“I’m thinking, ‘why aren’t we holding parents accountable?” said Polensek, when discussing curfew enforcement with FOX 8 News last month. “You brought these kids into the world and you should be responsible for them.”