If you have not already heard, the city of Seattle plans to construct a New Youth Jail. Here is why you should OPPOSE construction and the steps you can take:
- Original plan: $200-210 million will be allocated to funding a new juvenile detention center in Seattle.
- 55% of voters approved it in 2012, as it was described as a “Children and Family Justice Center,” which is misleading and prompted voters to cast an approving ballot.
- Current estimates show that funding the jail will actually cost $225-230+ million, which is significantly more than what was approved.
- A tax levy is actually illegal, but the county still wants to build it
Why say “no”?
- The current jail was built in 1992, and a 2011 inspection says it’s generally in good condition
- While some reports say renovating only costs $796,000, the highest number for renovation is $40 million, which is still by far less than constructing a new youth jail.
- 95% of the youth are incarcerated for low-level crimes, like setting off stink bombs in class. This is a ridiculous reason for incarceration.
- “there’s no evidence that out-of-school suspension and criminal prosecution reduce misbehavior in school, and ample evidence that it harms all kids, not just those who are suspended or arrested.”
- Re-offense: Incarcerated youth are 67% more likely to end up in jail again by the age of 25 than those that are not incarcerated
- Disproportionately targets brown, black, & indigenous youth
- Concerns of toxic contamination in the groundwater
- Dangerous to health — detained youth have 3x the risk of disease, disability, social problems, cognitive impairment, & early death
- Re-allocating funding to other programs like leadership training, restorative justice/community-building, and Best Start for Kids
- Build a community center with mental health services, drug counseling, unemployment services, job training, family planning, and crisis counseling
- Fund after-school programs and childcare
- Fund shelter housing to mitigate the homelessness crisis in Seattle
Evidence of success:
- Georgia passed a bill to end juvenile detention centers and instead invest in community-based rehabilitation programs. Felony placements in short-term programs dropped 62%.
- Texas adopted similar rehabilitation programs for drug addiction and mental illness, community supervision, reformed their parole system, etc.
→ Texas’ crime rate shrank 24%.
What can I do?
Step 1: Take this survey
Click the above link and scroll down. Click “take the survey.”
Rank the order of budget priorities. Either do not put criminal justice at all, or put it as last
Step 2: Call a Representative
~~ Information compiled from nonewyouthjail.org ~~
1) Call Dow Constantine to demand a moratorium on construction
Phone Number: 206-263-9600
Depending on the hour you might reach a staff person, or get an answering machine.
Call Script (feel free to personalize, while being sure to stay on message):
Hello, my name is [name] and I’m calling you to demand a formal moratorium on building the youth jail at 12th and Alder in Seattle.
For the past six years, individuals and organizations have been opposing this project. It is clear from recent actions protesting the construction of the jail that there is widespread ethical and fiscal opposition to this project.
I am not impressed that Dow Constantine is championing this racist project at a breakneck pace, while ignoring community requests to renegotiate the purpose of the building.
Construction cannot continue. Executive Constantine must place an immediate moratorium on construction. Thank you, goodbye.
2) Call Your County Councilmember to demand they endorse the #PeoplesMoratorium
Find your County Councillor (map below). You can look up your district online here.
Call your County Councillor
District 1 Rod Dembowski 206-477-1001
District 2 Larry Gossett 206-477-1002
District 3 Kathy Lambert 206-477-1003
District 4 Jeanne Kohl-Welles 206-477-1004
District 5 Dave Upthegrove 206-296-1005
District 6 Claudia Balducci 206-477-1006
District 7 Pete von Reichbauer 206-477-1007
District 8 Joe McDermott 206-477-1008
District 9 Reagan Dunn 206-477-1009
Script for County councilmembers
Hi, this is [your name], I’m a constituent in [District X], . I’m calling to ask Councilmember __[ ]____ to respond to the community’s cry for No New Youth Jail!
I’d like to see the Councilmember hold true to the County’s goal of zero youth detention by endorsing the People’s Moratorium on construction of the new youth jail at 12th and Alder in Seattle.
This project is clearly a racist investment in the school to prison pipeline.
Endorse the People’s Moratorium saying No New Youth Jail!
Thank you, goodbye.