News reports indicate the Provo City Council is scheduled on Tuesday, March 1, to consider a proposed ordinance establishing a daytime curfew.
Sutherland Institute appreciates the council’s efforts to prevent crime but opposes such an ordinance because it would interfere with the normal lives of children in private schools, children educated at home, college students, out-of-town visitors and others. Youths in these groups shouldn’t have to worry about being questioned by police for going about their normal activities, or about being placed in the custody of the Department of Child and Family Services.
Bill Duncan, director of Sutherland’s Center for Family and Society, commented, “This proposed ordinance threatens at least two foundational principles of good public policy: It burdens parents’ ability to direct the education of their children, and it reverses the limited government principle that the law should criminalize only conduct that directly threatens society.”
The ordinance could also conflict with state laws regarding truancy and the requirements for home schooling in Utah.
As Sutherland has noted in other contexts, people in Utah should not have to show papers in their daily walks of life just to avoid government scrutiny. The longstanding legal principle that specific criminal behavior should be combated with targeted measures should not be replaced with a general presumption that all youths not in public school, regardless of their reasons, should be subject to police stops.