EPIC is working in conjunction with Alliance for a Just Society to host rally in support of the No New Youth Jail Campaign this upcoming Friday, July 11, from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. We’ll meet at the Federal Building (915 2nd Avenue) in downtown Seattle at 9:30 and march to the County Building (500 4th Avenue) at 10:30 a.m. Come support the campaign!
On Wednesday, June 11, around 300 people gathered at the 2100 Building to discuss YUIR’s and EPIC’s No New Youth Jail Campaign. The audience asked heated questions to a panel consisting of Children and Family Justice Center community liaison Claudia Balducci, a representative from King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office, University of Washington law professor Angelica Chazaro, and Seattle University sociology professor Gary Perry. Perry and Chazaro made clear that the new jail will perpetuate Seattle’s prison industrial complex and disproportionately affect youth of color without addressing bigger problems that funnel youth into the juvenile justice system.
In response to the event, Stranger writer Ansel Herz wrote a Slog post about a letter written by public housing advocacy group Solid Ground supporting the No New Youth Jail Campaign.
Marcus Harrison Green also wrote the first of three planned articles covering the No New Youth Jail campaign for the South Seattle Emerald.
Leading up to the event, EPIC member Elizabeth Brown wrote an op-ed about the new youth jail for the Rainer Valley Post.
The No New Youth Jail Campaign, led by End the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC) stands in strong opposition to the building of a new $210 million “Children and Family Justice Center” in King County. We write this in alignment with youth, parents, children, families, prisoners, those whose voices are loud and those who are silenced, united in the belief that we must shift our County’s approach of “fixing broken youth” to “fixing broken education and juvenile justice systems.” It’s written in the United Nation’s Declaration of the Rights of the Child, principle 9: The child shall be protected against all forms of neglect, cruelty and exploitation. We see the construction of this new facility as an absolute violation of that right. We seek to redirect funding away from the mass incarceration of youth of color and towards community based prevention, intervention and diversion services and programs. Only then will we truly be investing in the future of our youth.
Crime is Down in King County
According to the King County Prosecutor, there has been a 50% decrease in youth convictions over the last decade, yet we are spending $210 million dollars to almost double the number of beds in the new youth jail. This expenditure of tax dollars not align with our current reality and will create incentive for increased incarceration to justify this expansion.
Building a New Youth Jail Perpetuates Racial Disparities
In 2012, King County reported that 39.5% of imprisoned youth were African American children, though they only made up 9.8% of the youth population. Additionally, 2.5% of the County’s incarcerated children were Native American, though they only made up 1.1% of the total youth population. These disparities are the symptoms of a system that disproportionately profiles, monitors, arrests, prosecutes, and sentences youth of color compared to white youth.
The proposal to build a new juvenile detention center is more than just a plan to build an updated brick and mortar facility; it is a mechanism to systematically uphold the racial, social, and economic discrimination that has historically oppressed communities of color. This new detention center will also further the gentrification process of the Central District and serve to further displace African Americans and others indigenous to the Central Area.
A Systemic Problem Demands a Holistic Solution:
While current plans for a new youth jail reinforce a justice system based on punishment, debt and isolation of juveniles, we also recognize that no one institution works alone. In order to end mass incarceration of youth of color our solutions must also address intergenerational poverty, income inequality and the public education system.
1. Invest in our youth: Fund services and programs on the front end, to support young people through community based prevention and intervention programming.
2. Strengthen alternatives to incarceration: Fund community-based alternatives to detention, including diversion programs, a reception center and restorative justice models.
3. Integrate an Anti-Racist Lens: In order for our institutions to address racial disparities, investment of funds should be accompanied by an analysis of the effect that it will have on communities of color. Educate the individuals and organizations working with our youth about the ways that racism is embedded within the current system so that they can create solutions based in this understanding.
We, the undersigned individuals and organizations represent a broad range of community, legal, faith, civic, business, social service, housing and social interests and we urge you to take a stand on this issue: No more youth jails! Restore to them the rights of a child. Join with us in finding solutions that will build the communities that we want, rather than pouring money into a project that will exacerbate the mass incarceration of our youth. Please contact Dustin Washington at Dwashington@afsc.org or 206-632-0500 ext. 14 for further dialogue.
End the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC)
Alliance for a Just Society
American Friends Service Committee
Arts Corps and Youth Speaks
Bethany United Church of Christ
Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites (CARW)
Committee on Oppression, Racism, and Education (CORE) UW Student Group
Freedom Church of Seattle
Freedom Education Project Puget Sound
Madrona Grace Presbyterian Church
NAACP of King County
No New Jim Crow
Peace Action Group of Plymouth Church
Peoples Institute for Seattle and Beyond NW
Post-Prison Education Program
Seattle University’s Social Work club
Statewide Poverty Action Network
Village of Hope
Washington Community Action Network
Youth Undoing Institutional Racism
Dennis Lamont Styles
Dr. Gary Perry
Dr. Pamela Taylor (Director, Center for the Study of Justice in Society, Seattle University)
Dr. Rose Ernst
Dugan and Perry Sammuel
J. Caesar Robinson
Rev. Mark Zimmerly (Pastor, Madrona Grace Presbyterian Church)
Rev. Angela Ying (Senior Pastor, Bethany United Church of Christ)
Rev. Brandon Duran (Associate Pastor of Youth and Young Adults, Plymouth Church United Church of Christ)
Rev. Brigatta Remole (Senior Pastor, Plymouth Church United Church of Christ)
Rev. Carol Jensen (Pastor, St. John United Lutheran Church)
Rev. David C. Bloom
Rev. Dr. Monica Corsaro (Pastor, Rainier Beach United Methodist Church)
Rev. Joan Henium (Pastor, University Christian Church)
Rev. Jon M. Luopa (Senior Pastor, University Unitarian Church)
Rev. Lauren Cannon (Associate Pastor, Keystone United Church of Christ)
Rev. Marcia J. Patton (Executive Minister, Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches)
Rev. Mike Denton (Conference Pastor, PNW Conference of the United Church of Christ)
Rev. Paul Benz (Faith Action Network)
Rev. Rich Gamble (Senior Pastor, Keystone United Church of Christ)
Rev. Rich Lang (University Temple United Methodist)
Rev. Richard Cunningham
Rev. Richard Dersen
Rev. Ron Moe-Lobeda (Pastor, University Lutheran Church)
Rev. Tim Phillips (Senior Pastor, Seattle First Baptist Church)
Rev. Willis (True Vine Church)
Rev. Zachary Bruce (Pastor, Freedom Church of Seattle)
Youth Undoing Institutional Racism presents:
NIGHT OF EXPRESSION
Thursday March 27th 6:00pm-8:00pm
3518 S. Edmunds St. Seattle, WA 98118
Southside Commons in Columbia City
A new $210 million youth jail is being built in Seattle
NO NEW YOUTH JAIL
70 youth are incarcerated in King County each day
The new youth jail will contain 154 cells
8% of young people in King County are Black
The youth jail is 42% Black
Music & spoken word performances
Featuring Sound Off 2014 Winner Otieno Terry
& Speaker Gerald Hankerson, King County NAACP President
Learn about the prison industrial complex!
Connect with powerful young people who are organizing for change!
Kimonti Carter, president of the Black Prisoners’ Caucus at Clallum Bay, wrote an open letter to elected officials and Washington state community arguing against the construction of a new jail on 12th and Alder. Carter sees the jail as part of the state’s “Staying Tough on Crime” policies that disproportionately target poor minority populations. He writes:
The supporters of this “new jail” project I am sure would articulate their stance from a race neutral perspective, then go on about how this new jail will better equip [sic] to service troubled youth with more resources and better evidence based programs…. Building a new Jail is more than laying a cement foundation and erecting steel barbed wire fences. It is a mechanism that reinforces a punitive mentality that disproportionately feeds black and brown children into its system, even though research has proven that black and brown children do not commit more crime than their white counterparts.
Carter also reflects on his own experiences of childhood incarceration, arguing that it’s the “duty” of the community to show our children “how to live”:
As a child who spent a good amount of his childhood incarcerated because of financially motivated crimes, I was too young to work and not mature enough to care or understand about the consequences of my actions. What was missing for me and many other youth struggling with life hardships were alternatives to the choices we were making. Most children go to detention as troubled youth and come out as delinquents because of the environment and mentality that being locked up creates and if different more realistic options were made available it would of made a tremendous impact not only the crime level, but gang recruitment and many other criminal choices young children were left to make under their dire and frustrating circumstances.
Read Carter’s full letter below.
Youth Undoing Institutional Racism (YUIR),
End the Prison Industrial Complex (EPIC),
& European Dissent present:
NO NEW YOUTH JAIL
Night of Education & Call to Action
THURSDAY, MARCH 20th 6:00-8:00PM
6230 Beacon Ave. S. Seattle, WA
Bethany United Church of Christ
NOW is the time for those of us who are white to take a stand.
Did you know that a $210 million youth jail is being built in Seattle? Youth crime has decreased by 50% but racial disproportionality has increased: young Black men are now 4.5 times more likely to be jailed in Seattle.
That is NOT what justice looks like.
NOT IN OUR NAME.
A community art project on the criminal justice system.
The voices of leaders from Youth Undoing Institutional Racism.
An interactive presentation on the impact of the Prison Industrial Complex by Gary Perry and Rose Ernst, Seattle University professors.
*Free Dinner & Childcare*
What would you do for youth in Seattle if you had $210 million dollars? EPIC and YUIR youth organizer Valentina Gonzalez-Marth responds to this question in an op-ed for Real Change by explaining real alternatives to juvenile detention. She argues against the idea that jails are “good” for youth by explaining that the juvenile justice system disproportionately targets youth of color while depriving them of the education and community support they need. What types of facilities do you think the County should build with the $210 million dollar levy? Keep the conversation going below.