Jackson councilman looks to bring back youth curfew

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Jackson City Councilman Kenneth Stokes is calling for leaders to implement a curfew ordinance once again after the recent rise in juvenile crimes.

The Ward 3 official released that he would be proposing a curfew aimed at preventing minors from being without adult supervision from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. during the week and from midnight to 6 a.m. on the weekends.

Stokes is also planning to include that any minor found violating the ordinance will be transported to the Henley Young Juvenile Detention Center while the parents or guardians are sent a written warning on the first offense. The adult will then be issued a $25 fine on the second offense, with the fee increasing by $25 with each following violation.

Vicksburg, a city roughly one hour away from Jackson, saw a similar uptick in its juvenile crime rate earlier this year, leading Mayor George Flaggs to reinstate a youth curfew following the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old.

Flaggs has since kept the curfew in effect and has publicly vowed that the city will continue to have the order in place to prevent further juvenile crime from occurring. He has also asserted that youth ought to have a structured path laid out ahead of them in the classroom, not a crime field.

“We’re going to continue to control crime in a way that we know it’s coming through — and that is the juvenile. We still have a curfew on [juveniles] and have had it for some time. We are going to move forward with that,” Flaggs said. “I believe what we have to do is return these youth back into the classroom and at the same time, give them a structured environment.”

It isn’t the first time that Jackson officials have imposed a citywide curfew in response to a rise in juvenile crime in previous years, as Lumumba approved a curfew for residents under 18 years old in February of 2021.

The ordinance, which lasted five days, prohibited minors from being unsupervised at any public street, highway, park, vacant lot, establishment, or other public place from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. It is unclear if any penalties were put in place.

According to officials in Jackson, city leaders called for the curfew after reporting 13 homicides and 52 aggravated assaults in January alone, with 11 of the murders and 46 of the assaults being gun-related. By the end of 2021, the city totaled a record-breaking 155 homicides, earning the title of “America’s Deadliest Major City” for having the highest per capita murder rate in the nation.

Now, Stokes has released that he will be proposing the implementation of another curfew ordinance during the next city council meeting just months after Jackson surpassed the triple-digit mark in homicides for the fourth consecutive year.

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba has since refuted Stokes’ claims, stating that data has shown a decrease in crime throughout the capital city over the last year.

“I do think that it is of note that we are seeing a decrease in overall crime by the data, and I will leave my crime-fighting initiatives or efforts to be a discussion between myself and the police chief and their recommendations from the Jackson Police Department,” the mayor told WJTV.

Over the course of Lumumba’s first six years in office, the homicide rate has almost tripled, going from 35.63 per 100,000 residents in 2017 to 92.1 per 100,000 residents in 2022. Jackson currently has an estimated population of 143,776.

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