‘Prevention, diversion, rehabilitation, and harm reduction’ — As memo on King County Jail leaks, Constantine says 12th Ave youth detention facility to be converted to ‘other purposes’ by 2025

CHS toured the new $200M+ Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center in February

A target at the core of the Black Lives Matter movement in Seattle, incarceration at the  new $200 million-plus youth jail facility at 12th and Alder will be phased out by 2025, King County Executive Dow Constantine said Tuesday. The announcement comes as an internal memo has leaked outlining the move as part of a larger initiative around reducing incarceration and increasing intervention and diversion opportunities.

“Today I commit King County to converting the remaining youth detention units at the CFJC to other uses as quickly as possible, and no later than 2025,” Constantine said in a series of updates on social media.

“I will also be proposing additional investments to help create healthy and community-based solutions that address the needs of youth & families in King County,” Constantine said.

During the COVID-19 crisis, officials have announced efforts to reduce the number of adults and juvenile held in detention facilities.

A letter to staff from John Diaz, director of the King County Jail and a former chief of police in Seattle, outlined the new Constantine initiatives including a phased closing of the county’s 34-year-old Seattle jail facility on 5th Ave. Continue reading

‘We can move our secure perimeter’ — 12th Ave’s new Children and Family Justice Center designed for hopes of a shrinking youth jail population

With colors, murals, game tables, and art that make the new facility feel like a cross between a new high school and juvenile hall, King County is showing off its new Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center on 12th Ave.

It is also designed, officials say, to slowly transform.

“As we move toward zero youth detention, how we can repurpose space?” one official said during a tour of the new facility’s detention area. “As our population decreases,” she said in the middle of one of the center’s living halls designed to look like dorms but secured for incarceration with electronic locks and state of the art surveillance systems, “we can move our secure perimeter.” Continue reading

CHS Pics | 2020 Seattle MLK Day march makes ‘No New Youth Jail’ stop

The first of this weekend’s planned marches was rescheduled after a bout of freezing weather. There was no stopping Monday’s Seattle MLK Day march.

Hundreds of students and supporters stepped off from in front of Garfield High School only a little behind schedule Monday afternoon for the annual march to City Hall in honor of the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. in Seattle. “20/20 Vision reflects the clarity of Dr. King’s dream and the power YOU have in 2020 to reclaim & re-envision it,” the Seattle MLK Jr. Organizing Coalition wrote about this year’s march and day of reflection and workshops at the Central District high school. Continue reading

County’s new Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center is complete but don’t expect a celebration anytime soon

A scene from a Valentines Day protest earlier this year at the 12th Ave construction site

Quietly, after a long, still unresolved battle by activists to stop it, the new youth jail and court facility rising above the old, still standing. and still being utilized Youth Services Center at 12th and Alder is preparing to open and begin its part in King County’s correctional system “in the next several weeks.”

A spokesperson for the King County Executive’s office confirmed the opening plans with CHS this week and said construction of the project’s main detention, court, and services building has been completed.

Quieter still, the county has announced the facility’s name — the Judge Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center.

In 2018 after years of opposition to early efforts on the project, groups began a call for “a period of redesign” saying plans for the $200 million-plus facility are outdated and out of step with changing approaches to juvenile justice and incarceration.

One last hope to stop the project in its tracks evaporated last December when the Washington State Supreme Court delivered a key decision for county officials, ruling that King County could continue collecting taxes to fund the construction, unwinding technicalities in the ballot language for the 2012 $210 million levy. Continue reading

‘People’s Moratorium’ continues with another protest at youth jail construction site — UPDATE: 9 arrested

(Image: No New Youth Jail)

Activist opposing the underway construction of a new youth jail facility at 12th and Alder have again targeted the site with a protest Friday morning

No Youth Jail Activists say clergy and faith groups have joined their continuing “People’s Moratorium.” The group is broadcasting the action here on Facebook. Video shows activists inside the work site. In March, the group began its series of protests calling on King County Executive Dow Constantine to put a halt to construction of the facility. Continue reading