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Baltimore sets youth curfew to curb crime, violence

By John Clarke

ANNAPOLIS, Maryland (Reuters) - Baltimore has become the latest U.S. city planning to set curfews for teenagers to curb rising crime, with critics calling the move legal overreach.

The Baltimore City Council voted late on Monday to require children under 14 to be off the streets by 9 p.m., and those under 16 to be home by 10 p.m.

Parents can be fined $500 if their children are caught on the street after the curfew.

Democratic Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she would sign the law next month, calling it a much-needed tool. The curfew would take effect in July.

"We all know that when children are on the streets late at night without proper supervision, they are more likely to either become the perpetrators or the victims of violent crime," she said in a statement.

Indianapolis; Oakland, California; and Austin, Texas are considering curfews. Several other U.S. cities have already imposed them, including Miami, Philadelphia and Houston.

The clampdown in Baltimore comes as the city experiences one of the highest crime rates in the country. Last year, it saw a 7.3 percent rise in homicides, to 235, police statistics show.

Critics say the curfew is a poor use of resources.

In a letter to city council members, American Civil Liberties Union Maryland attorney Sonia Kumar said there was no evidence the law would curb crime and violence.

"There are really significant reasons for not entangling young people and their families in the criminal justice system," she wrote.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Tom Brown)

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