Trenton, N.J., officials have implemented a controversial new policy to crack down on curfew violations. Minors found to be breaking curfew may be taken into custody by city police and brought to local churches, where they can be picked up by their parents.
Americans United attorneys sent city officials a letter asking for more information about the program and warning against possible church-state entanglement. The officials insisted that the program will respect the First Amendment and that children will not be exposed to religious iconography or material.
The city has also directed volunteers not to discuss religion with young curfew violators, who have also been taken to non-religious facilities as well as to church buildings.
“I want to be very clear; we’re not bringing religious activity to anyone that might come to these safe havens or shelters,” Mayor Eric Jackson told reporters. “We’re not integrating anyone’s personal faith beliefs at all.”
AU will continue monitoring the situation.