City of Jeannette considers raising fine for staying out past curfew

JEANETTE, Pa. — It’s a community divided: while some in Jeannette are in support of heftier fines for kids who violate the city’s curfew, there are others who say the updated penalty will only hurt the children of Jeannette.

Police chief Donald Johnston says the city of Jeannette has been having issues with more and more children staying out late at night and causing trouble.

“We have received numerous complaints from residents in the community,” said Johnston.

Noise complaints, late-night loitering and vandalism are just some of the issues a few adults on Clay Avenue tell Channel 11 that they’ve witnessed.

“Probably middle school age, both male and female, just destroying things,” said one Jeanette resident.

“I’ve seen a window broken out,” a woman told Channel 11. “You may see the after effects in the morning when you come to work.”

The curfew, established in 1943, is for children 17 and younger from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

The current antiquated ordinance calls for a $10 fine for children and a $25 penalty for adults who permit the child to break the curfew.

On Thursday, the city council had an initial vote on updating the ordinance.

The proposed ordinance carries a fine of $50 to $300 for the first offense, $150 to $500 for the second offense and $250 to $1,000 for the third offense. The fine would apply to a minor or parent.

“It reduces the crimes not just the juveniles commit but the crimes that are committed against the juveniles,” said Johnston.

During the meeting, a handful of parents, faith leaders, youth advocates and even children were in attendance, opposing the update of the ordinance.

“It’s getting ridiculous. It’s all about money, it’s monetary. But it’s hurting these children and their families. If they even have one, said one parent.

Others say that heftier fines, along with the possible arrest and criminalization of children, is not the answer. Instead, they suggest kids need supportive services.

“We are not going to take them and throw them away and get them out of our hair. We are going to work with them and we are going to help them,” said a member from a local church program.

In the end, the update was voted down, after a few council members said the language in the proposal was poorly written and there wasn’t enough discussion before it was put on the agenda.

Another council member who voted against the update stated that more time was needed to tighten the policy as written.

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