Join the Coalition to Stop Caging Youth!
Points of Unity
1) The current juvenile punishment system is racist and classist.
2) Criminalization and imprisonment are devastating our families and communities, especially targeting and harming immigrants, poor people and people of color.
3) Imprisoning youth does not work—it consumes resources and harms youth, disrupts education and family connections, exposes them to abuse, creates negative long-term outcomes in their lives, and does not make our communities any better or safer.
4) We believe that all youth should have the education, health care, housing, food, art, music and freedom to grow and thrive.
5) We believe that there are many alternatives to criminalization and imprisonment—especially providing youth and families with the resources they need and getting at the root causes of poverty—that can actually help our communities heal and rebuild.
The juvenile punishment and child welfare systems in King County are severely racially targeted. 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. In King County, Black and Native children together make up:
- 8 percent of the child population
- 25 percent of the children involved in referrals accepted for investigation
- 33 percent of all children removed from their homes and placed in care
- 50 percent of the children still in out-of-home care four years after placement
Once in the foster care system, youth face terrible outcomes–they are more unlikely to finish school, more likely to end up in the criminal system, and more likely to face poverty and homelessness.
The energy and resources being used to plan the rehabilitation of this facility should be redirected to creating programs that support youth and families in King County–child care, jobs, mental health support, drug treatment, arts programs, gardens, after school programs, income support and housing. It isn’t just this dilapidated youth jail building that is dangerous for youth—being caged is dangerous to the physical and mental health of youth, harms their access to education, and has lasting negative effects in their lives. This youth facility is outdated, and so is the model of locking up young people. The dilapidation of these buildings is a crossroads for the County—we can choose to keep investing in a model that doesn’t work and that creates harm, or we can shut it down and shift toward supporting youth.
We are working to turn the tide in King County away from jail and court building and toward supporting youth and families. By signing on to these Points of Unity, you would join other organizations that are making a stand against a plan that is bad for our County, and that was not created in consultation with affected communities.
Please contact us if you would like to be added to the coalition or if you have any questions.