The US city of Patterson is considering imposing a curfew on all it residents in an attempt to combat spiralling crime.
The measure would be the first time an American city has imposed a curfew in a non emergency situation.
Residents in Patterson, New Jersey, would face imprisonment or fines if they are caught outside between the hours of midnight and 7am although people travelling in cars would not be included.
The Mayor of Patterson, which has a population of 147,000, said the drastic measure was being considered following a spate of shootings linked to drugs.
The curfew would last for at least two months and will be voted on by city leaders next month.
Paterson, New Jersey’s third-largest city, has had six murders and 30 shootings already this year.
Mayor Jose Torres said: “We’re trying to think outside the box. (…and failed.) This was triggered predominantly by fear among city residents over the shootings that have been occurring this summer.”
But civil rights leaders have condemned the proposed curfew.
Ed Barocas, from the American Civil Liberties Union, said: “An adult curfew is unprecedented in our state.”
Law experts also said the curfew was unconstitutional.
Jon Shane, a professor of policing administration at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, said “It’s just completely unheard of.”
New Orleans was the last city to have a curfew imposed when National Guard soldiers patrolled the streets following the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.
By Paul Thompson
Published: 5:35PM BST 19 Aug 2009
Source: The Telegraph