Municipal judge sees progress in juvenile curfew ordinance decriminalization

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SAN ANTONIO – It's been 10 months since the city of San Antonio decriminalized the juvenile curfew ordinance. 

Municipal Judge Clarissa Chavarria said the changes have been positive. 

"When I see the parents here, the reaction is more like, 'I didn't know anything about this, am I going to get a citation?'" Chavarria said. 

Violations are now handled at a forum on school campus with the school resource officer, parent, school staff and the juvenile.  

"If the child is missing class and is off campus and is in violation of the curfew ordinance, chances are they're being truant and it's not their first time," Chavarria said. "We're able to tie them together and come up with a plan so the child is not re-offending."

The Juvenile Case Management Office provides the juvenile or family members with resources, connects them with nonprofits or gets them mental help, if needed. The goal is to get juveniles help and prevent them from ending up with a stigma. 

"I'm not sure we're solving the problem, but I think we're getting there. We're opening the conversation and the door," Chavarria said. "We're actually talking about the problem and coming up with solutions and not just fining the child or the parents."

A state lawmaker is pushing for the passage of House Bill 1332 that, if passed, would eliminate curfew ordinances. Chavarria said when done correctly, curfews can help keep minors safe. 

"I would hope that most cities would aim toward decriminalization versus just wiping it just completely out," Chavarria said. 

About the Author:

Patty Santos joined the KSAT 12 News team in July 2017. She has a proven track record of reporting on hard-hitting news that affects the community.