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.