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June 13, 2020

Majority of arrests for loitering, curfew violations in Philadelphia made against Black youth, data shows

The PPD arrested more than 15,000 juveniles for such crimes between 2016 and 2018

Police Arrests
loitering curfew arrests philadelphia Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Philadelphia made more than 15,000 arrests for loitering and curfew violations between 2016 and 2018, at least ten times higher than the police department with the second highest number of such arrests.

The Philadelphia Police Department arrests more Black youth for crimes like loitering and curfew violations than White youth in the city, newly analyzed data shows. 

Data voluntarily reported to the FBI from the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) showed that they arrested more juveniles for loitering and curfew violations between 2016 and 2018 than roughly 100 other police departments in the country.

ABC News recently analyzed the data and found evidence that shows a racial disparity in these arrests, between Black and White juveniles. 

Black youth accounted for 80% of loitering arrests. Combined, about 85% of arrests for both loitering and curfew violations were made against young Black Philadelphians. 

According to the data, about 63% of those arrested for crimes overall during the time period were Black, although only about 42% of Philadelphia's population is Black.

The PPD arrested approximately 15,500 people, all of them juveniles, for loitering and curfew violations between 2016 and 2018. That is ten times more arrests than Nashville's Police Department, which was ranked second with only 1,545 arrests during those same years. 

By comparison, other major cities on the FBI's list reported a little over 100 arrests for loitering and curfew violations. Due to Philadelphia's large number of arrests, in 2018 the city's department alone accounted for one in four loitering arrests nationwide.

Curfew law in Philadelphia varies based on age, enforced for youth between the ages of 13 and 18, and time of year, with different hours based on whether it is the school year or the summer. Loitering law is vaguely defined by the city, making reasons for arrest largely up to an officer at the time of a suspected incident. Both laws have been criticized as both discretionary and leading to racial profiling rather than the prevention of crime.

Philadelphia arrests for such crimes are on the downward trend, ABC reported, but for young black people they were at one point on the rise. From 2016 to 2018, curfew and loitering arrests against Black youth rose from 76% to 85% of all juveniles arrested.

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