curfews may be popular with “family-friendly” politicians
and concerned business owners, it is not the responsibility
of our local governments to usurp the rights of parents to
raise children in the manner they see fit [“Under 18? Stay
Home,” Aug. 4].
Parents have the unfettered ability to determine what is in
the best interest of their minor children. This right extends
from the right of parents to select the best method of education
to determining what movies or video games are appropriate
for their child. Our governments should not take away from
the ability of parents or guardians to raise and nurture their
Curfew laws and regulations are an unnecessary, unproductive,
and unconstitutional power to prevent juvenile crime. If local
officials and local business owners treated teenagers with
respect, rather than as a nuisance or “probable cause,” they
would find that most children are well-behaved and productive
members of society. Curfew ordinances treat children with
contempt without regard for their (or their parents’) constitutional
Our local officials must do better than knee-jerk reactions
to juvenile disturbances. Imposing curfew and other restrictions
only reinforces the image that children and their parents
cannot be trusted to make the right decision. Children should
be entrusted with responsibility, not shielded from it.
If teenage idling is a major concern in the Capital Region,
then we must find better ways to keep minors active. Our elected
officials should invest more energy into encouraging the employment
of teenagers and to provide fun, educational, and safe activities
for children, and not to consider children vagrants, criminals,
Metroland is to be commended on Rick Marshall’s timely
article. Recent months have seen reports of teenagers in Albany
committing crimes involving guns—guns they only could have
obtained through organized criminal trafficking networks.
This is highly disturbing. More so is the fact that the only
well-publicized action that has been taken regarding juvenile
misbehavior is the shopping-mall curfew story. I would say
that our priorities are not in order.
It is very important for young people to be given the chance
to make mistakes, to make a supported transition to assuming
the rights and responsibilities of adulthood and to be reared
in a community that cherishes them instead fearing them. Unfortunately,
it seems that kids are increasingly treated as a suspect class
and subject to curfews, restrictions and a presumption that
they are nothing but trouble waiting to happen. That is bad
for children, families and communities.
Our justice system is recognized as a powerful teacher of
fundamental lessons. We want to have our kids grow up learning
those lessons and valuing our laws and institutions. We want
them to have a clear understanding of what is right and what
is wrong. We want them to learn that all are equal under the
law and all are innocent until proven guilty. But what message
are we sending them with laws and ordinances that impose special
restrictions on them that have nothing to do with crime or
their safety and well-being? Or using the police in a way
that instills in them a very negative attitude toward law
enforcement officers? This criminalization of youth conduct—this
blurring of boundaries—undermines the ability of our laws
and justice system to teach their fundamental lessons.
Mr. Marshall did thorough research and reached out to a variety
of sources. I would like to add three priorities.
First is an emphasis on the fundamental responsibility of
parents and guardians to supervise kids. It’s one thing for
government to act in loco parentis, a legal term, but
not in place of parents, which means the same thing in English,
but not in fact. A parent can say: “You’ve been bad. You’re
grounded.” That responds to individual misbehavior and reinforces
the integrity of the family itself. Curfews and the like,
whether imposed by municipal governments or shopping mall
owners, “ground” a whole class for no particularly instructive
or disciplinary reason. If government wants to get involved,
it should be providing aid and support to those parents who
need help in asserting parental authority and carrying out
their parental responsibilities.
Second, any police executive or prosecutor will tell you that
most kids get into trouble, not in the late hours of the evening
when most curfews are set, but in the hours immediately after
the school day ends. They support expanded after school programs
as a remedy. There is, in fact, an increasingly effective
lobby led by the law enforcement community urging government
at all levels to invest in this proven anti-delinquency strategy—a
strategy that yields all kinds of other positive dividends
for kids, families and the community. I strongly support the
efforts of New York’s associations of police chiefs, sheriffs
and district attorneys in their advocacy.
Third, in a much larger sense, we have to get back to our
roots in society’s response to juvenile delinquency and dysfunction.
More than a century ago, America led the world in progressive
thinking about the problem of juvenile delinquency. In state
after state, laws were enacted that created a presumption
that kids in trouble must be afforded care and treatment that
would lead to rehabilitation. It is sad, but in this era of
mass media, sensational journalism and a number of spectacular
cases of youthful criminality, the public has increasingly
gone along with ever more harsh and arbitrary treatment of
young people by the justice system. We are too ready to write
them off. And that is ultimately a great disgrace because
we have increasingly solid scientific evidence that there
are programs and treatments that really do work when it comes
to predicting, preventing and rehabilitating delinquent behavior.
We have the greatest moral obligation to make them universally
Former criminal-justice advisor, administration of Gov. Mario
One’s for Tom
second year in a row. Wow!
The first time I wasn’t even here—I moved and was living in
the Florida Keys. This year I’ve been back a total of 10 months
and I’ve won again. So what did I do? What did I win Don Pardo?
Best Local Poet” [Readers’ Poll, Aug. 4].
Thank you, I really mean it, it’s an honor, but I’m a little
disappointed that Tom Nattell didn’t win it in memoriam. Tom
was our hero, and should have got that title. I’ve done a
lot of work, but so has Mary Panza, not to mention Thom Francis
and Don Levy, Dan Wilcox and others in the poetry scene.
So kids, I accept this award in memory of Tom Nattell, my
hero and yours, our mentor, poet and friend. And I thank you.
But next year please give it to Wilcox or Panza, Levy or Francis.
They are all my heroes too . . . and they all kick ass and
the lid of poetry in Albany.
So as Tom would say, “Peace, and may the muse be with you.”
like to thank Rick Marshall for a well-balanced, informative
article on one of the City of Albany’s treasures, the John
A. Howe Library in the South End (“A Landmark, Ailing,” Aug.
25). I would like to clarify, though, two points that may
have led to some confusion.
The first is that I am the Public Information Officer for
the Albany Public Library, not the Upper Hudson Library System
(UHLS), a consortium of 29 public libraries in Albany and
Rensselaer Counties. The Albany Public Library is the Central
Library in this system, but cannot speak for other libraries.
The second, and perhaps more important, point is that Albany’s
library re-chartered in 2002, after a public referendum. We
moved from being an Association Library, whose major source
of funding was the City of Albany, to a Public District Library,
whose major source of funding is a tax levy, and whose budget
is voted upon and whose board is elected by the voters. Our
budget has, so far, been a separate line in the City School
District elections, but we also have the option to hold our
The library is currently working on comprehensive facilities
plan. When it is released, we will hold a referendum that
the citizens of Albany can vote on.
Quality library service to the South End is one of the library’s
highest priorities, and the John A. Howe Library, like all
our other locations, is an integral part of the fabric of
Public Information Officer, Albany Public Library
our review of Summer Selections 2005 at the Fields
Sculpture Park (“Not Too Far a Field,” Art, Aug. 18), David
Brickman mistakenly attributed a stainless-steel sculpture
featuring bullet holes to Magdalena Abakanowicz. The piece,
titled Gunshot Landscape, is by Margaret Evangeline.
welcomes typed, double-spaced letters (computer printouts
OK), addressed to the editor. Or you may e-mail them to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Metroland reserves the right to edit letters for length; 300
words is the preferred maximum. You must include your name,
address and day and evening telephone numbers. We will not
publish letters that cannot be verified, nor those that are
illegible, irresponsible or factually inaccurate.
Letters, Metroland, 4 Central Ave.,
4th Floor, Albany, NY 12210
or e-mail us at email@example.com.