‘Zero detention’ — Forum to discuss what ‘No New Youth Jail’ would mean

Protesters at a March Black Lives Matters rally (Image: CHS)

Protesters at a March Black Lives Matters rally (Image: CHS)

King County is moving ahead with its downscaled but still more than $200 million project to build a new juvenile legal and detention center at the site of the current facility at 12th and Alder even as it makes the case that it is moving away from traditional “youth jail” justice. Thursday night, the League of Women’s Voters will convene a panel for a public discussion on the “zero detention” movement:

Forum: How Do We Get to Zero Youth Detention in King County?

In mid-March, CHS reported on the county’s efforts to show its changing approach to juvenile crime and justice as the new facility moves toward construction. According to officials, the current 12th and Alder facility held an average daily population in 2016 of 51 juveniles, down 16% from 2015, and an even steeper drop from 1998 when the facility routinely held more than 150 people. Meanwhile, another 17-20 juveniles on average are held in the adult facility in Kent, owing to regulations surrounding their age and the crimes involved.

The new facility is slated to go on the same campus as the existing juvenile justice center along 12th Ave about a block south of the Seattle University campus. King County has been looking to replace the courthouse and administrative buildings for years, and is building a new jail along with them. The recession of 2008 held up plans for the expensive project, but in 2012, the county put a roughly $210 million levy before voters which passed by a 55-45 margin. The existing detention center has 212 beds. The new one could have up to 144, though County Executive Dow Constantine said he’d like it to hold to no more than 112.

“No New Youth Jail,” meanwhile, continues to be a rallying cry for activists and mayoral candidate Nikkita Oliver has made the cause a major element of her campaign to unseat incumbent Ed Murray.

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2 thoughts on “‘Zero detention’ — Forum to discuss what ‘No New Youth Jail’ would mean

  1. Do these people have any understanding that a youth generally has to commit a violent offense that by its nature includes a victim of that violence to be held in the youth center? Is “art therapy” going to protect a victim from their assailant? Do we now need to place these youth in adult county jail? Do these people have ANY understanding that services and classes are provided to the youth in detention? There seems to be a great deal of projecting hard left academic societal theories onto a very small number of violent offenders. There are 50,000 black people in Seattle and 51 youth in detention is driving the hard left on this? There are actual solutions being worked on everyday by people who participate in the lives of these youth both in and outside the system, not by the activist community.