Press Release for Thursday’s Event

Press Release:

July 26: Opponents of King County’s Proposition 1 Demonstrate against Plans to Reconstruct Youth Jail and Courts

On July 26, residents who oppose King County’s Proposition 1, the proposed $210M “rehabilitation” of the youth jail and courts on 12th Avenue and Alder, will gather at an all-afternoon “Festival of Resistance” on the jail grounds.

Proposition 1 is a tax levy that will raise the revenue to tear down and rebuild the jail and court buildings, which are in terrible condition. Opponents argue that it is not just this dilapidated youth jail building that is dangerous for youth—being locked up is dangerous to the physical and mental health of youth, harms their access to education, and has lasting negative effects in their lives.  King County should stop investing in criminalizing youth of color and poor youth while basic needs and services, like child care, drug treatment, health care, housing and income support are underfunded.

The juvenile punishment system in King County also targets youth of color.  According to a March 2012 report by the Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System, black youth are twice as likely as white youth to be arrested.  Black and native youth are more than twice as likely as white youth to be referred to court and youth of color are less likely to be referred to diversion programs.  Black youth make up only 6% of the Washington youth population but 21% of youth sentenced to Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration facilities. 

This targeted imprisonment of youth of color is part of a broader national trend that people around the country are opposing.  The United States imprisons more people than any other country in the world today, and more than any other country that has ever existed.  The US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prisoners.  Over 60% of people in prison are people of color. In King County, like elsewhere, the police target people of color, poor people, people with disabilities, indigenous people, and youth. There are many alternatives to putting people in cages in the name of justice, but our governments are too used to seeing problems (like the problem of a dilapidated dangerous youth jail) as best solved by more courts, jails and prisons.

Opponents of Prop. 1 have planned a “Festival of Resistance” for Thursday the 26th from noon to 8pm, to get out the word to voters that this construction plan will not bring justice to youth and families, it will only further invest in criminalization and provide private developers access to more land in the gentrifying Central District.  The Festival will include live music, free dinner, a film screening and workshops addressing police violence and ways of resolving conflict and building safety without using the police or prison systems.  Community organizations will be tabling, including the Northwest Network, a national leader in addressing domestic violence, and an organization that opposes the new jail.

The public is invited to bring art supplies, music, food, tents, and ideas about getting at the root causes of poverty, racism, and violence in King County. 

Press Contact: Rose Harriet, 206 948 4548

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