12 Points Against the Youth Jail

Autonomous Actions Against Prisons recently published a very useful 12 Points document, below.

12 Points Against the New Youth Jail

For more than five years, thousands of people in Seattle have fought the construction of a new $210 million youth jail in Seattle’s Central District, the city’s historically African-American neighborhood. People from all walks of life–Black and brown people, criminalized people, queer and trans people, students, healthcare workers, anarchists, youth, social workers, migrants, clergy members, Raging Grannies, teachers, 75 community organizations, and more–have mobilized month after month since 2012 to reject the idea that any young person should be in jail and to force the City and County to abandon the new youth jail project. Here are 12 points against the new youth jail.

This project was not approved by King County voters.

21% of registered voters in King County approved the tax levy to fund the new youth jail. The remaining 79% of registered voters either voted against the measure or did not vote. The measure would have received even less support than 21% of registered voters if the ballot had made it clear that it was funding a new detention center for kids.

This project is an old-fashioned backroom door land swindle.

The real purpose of this project all along has been to allow three large parcels of land in the Central District to be sold cheaply to King County Council/Seattle City Council members’ friends and families. These three large parcels of extremely valuable Seattle real estate have been deemed “surplus” by the County, which in reality just means they are going to make tons of cash for developers and profitmongers.

This County claims it is legally required to imprison youth. That is a lie.

In Washington State, it is illegal for children to be incarcerated in facilities with adults. There is no legal requirement that the State maintain incarceration facilities for children.

This project is being pushed by King County judges because they want fancy new chambers.

The judges have long demanded fancier courtrooms and nicer private chambers for themselves. They were the champions of this project from the beginning. The judges’ area in the proposed new jail is actually larger than the detention center.

Sleazy politicians are turning against this project now that it’s clearly underway.

Mayor Murray came out with statements against the youth jail while at the same time secretly pressuring others to continue to move forward with the project. City councilmembers who repeatedly voted to approve the jail are now crying crocodile tears and wringing their hands about the harms of youth detention. These politicians want to look progressive by making empty statements about the problems of youth incarceration now that the campaign against the jail has exposed it as a racist scam. If they wanted to stop the jail building, they could.

This project is so fucking racist.

Black, Native, and immigrant youth are targeted by Seattle’s jail. Any claims of being a “Hate Free State” or a “Sanctuary City” are completely contradicted by the rates at which we lock up our Black, Native, and immigrant children.

Nationally and locally up to 12% of young people are sexually assaulted while in jail, mostly by guards.

Putting children in jail is emotionally, physically, and sexually abusive. We pay the salaries of those who abuse, humiliate, and violate our young people while they are caged away from their families and communities.

The company attempting to build this jail (Howard S. Wright) is owned by an international corporation (Balfour Beatty) that makes billions of dollars building prisons and detention centers worldwide.

Balfour Beatty has built hundreds of jails around the globe. We should reject this corporation and refuse to let them make a profit in Seattle off the jailing and abuse of our children.

The gentrification and now techieficiation of the Central District, Seattle’s historically Black neighborhood, is well-documented. This has been a civically-supported and politically-funded decimation of the Black community.

Already more than 56% of the Black residents of the CD have been pushed out of the neighborhood between 1990 and 2010. Whether through red-lining, weed and seed, or abusive and racist police profiling, Seattle has been complicit in the destruction of Black lives.

Seattle’s claim to be progressive and liberal is a lie.

The progress offered here is only available to the wealthy, the white, and the well-behaved. Our city is not a sanctuary city if poor people are unwelcome; if houseless people are constantly attacked and maligned; if the police can kill with impunity; if there’s no affordable housing available; if the city invests in more ways to imprison rather than helping vulnerable people survive.

All of King County is stolen Duwamish land.

And the Duwamish people don’t build prisons for children.

Given all this, this is what is required moving forward:

– The sculpture piece The Spirit of Our Youth by indigenous artist Marvin Oliver that was removed in January 2015 must be fully restored and returned to its original site.

– All buildings comprising the current youth jail must be demolished immediately and the land returned to the Duwamish people.

– Every young person inside the current youth jail must be released immediately with their record cleared and paid financial reparations for the harms they have experienced while imprisoned.

– The City of Seattle must return to Black people all lands and homes stolen during the era of “Weed and Seed” in the Central District.

– Claudia Balducci, who has been the public face of this project, is fired immediately and barred from holding any further jobs in government due to her racism, malevolence, and outright lack of ethics. Dow Constantine, the King County Executive pushing the new youth jail, is fired immediately. Mayor Murray is removed from office. All members of the Seattle City Council and the King County Council who have voted for the youth jail in years past admit their culpability and immediately step down.

– King County immediately places the $210 million dollars previously tied to the new youth jail under the authority of formerly incarcerated youth and youth of color, who will have complete control in determining how the money can be spent to benefit them, their schools, families, communities, and lives.




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