Category Archives: Features

What’s Next in King County’s Path to Ending Youth Detention?

by Paul Kiefer

(This article was originally published on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)


At the end of a Thursday in early March, 28 teenagers sat in the King County Juvenile Detention Center on Alder Street in Seattle’s Central District. One had arrived in the facility earlier that day; another had spent nearly 640 days in detention for a first-degree rape charge.

The Patricia H. Clark Children and Family Justice Center, which opened quietly in February 2020, replaced the county’s aging Youth Services Center. The new justice center has 156 beds, and King County Executive Dow Constantine has said the County doesn’t intend to fill them all. Last July, Constantine made a commitment to guide the County toward an end to youth detention by 2025, promising to transition the new detention center to “other uses” and “[shift] public dollars away from systems that are rooted in oppression and into those that maintain public health and safety, and help people on a path to success.”

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The 2021 Washington State Legislative Session: A Midway Review

by John Stafford


Introduction

The Washington State legislature is in the middle of its 2021 session, a 105-day session that convened on Jan. 11 and will end on April 25. This year’s session is being conducted via Zoom and will generate three budgets — an operating budget, a transportation budget, and a capital budget. These budgets are two-year documents. They will be created this year (2021) and then again in 2023. In addition to the budgets, more than 1,000 bills are being introduced and debated for potential passage. There are a series of cutoff dates for bills, and we have just passed the Mar. 9 deadline for bills (other than revenue bills) to pass their chamber of origin in order to remain alive.

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Weekend Long Reads: Life Without Parole

by Kevin Schofield


This week’s long read is hot off the presses: a Washington State Supreme Court ruling from this past Thursday. By a 5-4 vote, the Court ruled that a state law requiring a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole for any adult convicted of aggravated first degree murder is unconstitutional when applied to individuals aged 19 or 20, because it violates the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Underlying this case, and several that preceded it, are two ongoing societal debates: What makes a punishment “cruel,” and at what point does someone cross over from juvenile to adult?

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Weekend Long Reads: What Impact Did COVID-19 Have on Crime?

by Kevin Schofield


This week’s long read poses the question, “What was the effect of COVID-19 and social unrest on crime in U.S. cities last year?”

The National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice commissioned a report by the Council on Criminal Justice and two University of Missouri researchers to look at crime rates in 2020 and try to find explanations. In particular, the researchers focused on the widely reported increase in homicides. The research team collected crime data, where available, from 34 U.S. cities including Seattle as the basis for their analysis.

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Friendly Hmong Farms: Supporting Puget Sound Hmong Farmers With a New CSA

by Kamna Shastri


There are four main ingredients in Friendly Vang-Johnson’s upcoming CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) program: family, Hmong farmers, youth, and giving back to the community. Rooted in goodwill and mutual aid, Friendly Hmong Farms’ CSA is intergenerational and empowers youth and centers food justice while providing the Northwest’s Hmong farmers with a steady source of income. The boxes will be full to the brim with local staples as well as culturally relevant produce grown by Hmong farmers of the Puget Sound region. Signups began March 4 and boxes will be available throughout the greater Seattle area beginning the first week of April.

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Black History Today: Roxanne Christian-Dancer — a Brilliant Reminder of What’s Possible

by Marcus Harden


(Black History Today is published in collaboration with Rise Up for Students.)

“Mama exhorted her children at every opportunity to ‘Jump at de sun.’ We might not land on the sun, but at least we would get off the ground.” — Zora Neale Hurston (Dust Tracks on a Road, 1942) 

I’ve heard it said that we aren’t humans on a spiritual journey, but we are spirits having a human experience. In life you encounter people who seem like they’ve “been here before” because of their vast knowledge and understanding of the world — who are well traveled in the physical, mental and spiritual spaces.

Roxanne Christian-Dancer is one of those people who has been here before. Born in Columbus, Georgia, and raised by her angelic and equally ambitious mother, Ms. Rolaina, who embedded the spirit of discovery in her, Roxanne is truly a renaissance woman. Her latter formative years were spent in Seattle, where she graduated from Ingraham High School and later the University of Washington.

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Weekend Long Reads: The 2020 Urban Exodus — It’s Complicated

by Kevin Schofield


This weekend’s Long Read comes to us from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.  The network of Federal Reserve Banks do a large amount of research to inform their work in planning the nation’s monetary policy. This particular research report looks at the reported “urban exodus”: the flight of people from urban neighborhoods of cities.

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Black History Today: Gary Ladd II — Lifting a Powerful Legacy to New Heights

by Marcus Harden


(Black History Today is published in collaboration with Rise Up for Students.)

“Commitment is a big part of what I am and what I believe. How committed are you to winning? How committed are you to being a good friend? To being trustworthy? To being successful? How committed are you to being a good father, a good teammate, a good role model? There’s that moment every morning when you look in the mirror: Are you committed, or are you not?”

— LeBron James

Legacy is typically defined in the human construct as being what we leave behind for those who come after us — and what we inherit from the ones who came before us. It can be a gift but also, at times, a heavy load to bear.

For some, carrying on a legacy happens in name only. For others, it happens through our life’s purpose. For a few, like Gary Ladd II, it happens in both, and they find their legacy intertwined like links on a chain with the generations on either side of them.

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Black History Today: Trent and Ericka Pollard, Leading With Love

by Marcus Harden

(Black History Today is published in collaboration with Rise up for Students.)


“Like sweet morning dew

I took one look at you

And it was plain to see

You were my destiny

With you I’ll spend my time

I’ll dedicate my life

I’ll sacrifice for you

Dedicate my life for you”

— From the song “All I Need,” by Mary J. Blige and Method Man

I love “love.” I don’t know how else to say it. I truly believe that love is where “God” resides, in the spiritual realm and inside of all of us.

Healthy love, positive love — love that is dedicated to a purpose, a profession or a person — to me is truly the greatest love of all.

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Black History Today: Sue Beyers, Dedicated to Service Through Education

by Marcus Harden

(Black History Today is published in collaboration with Rise up for Students.)


“It’s not about supplication, it’s about power. It’s not about asking, it’s about demanding. It’s not about convincing those who are currently in power, it’s about changing the very face of power itself.”

—Kimberle Williams Crenshaw

The fictional character of Clair Huxtable broke through color lines as “America’s Mom.” If you grew up in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, you saw in Phylicia Rashad a brilliant, strong, caring, graceful, and beautiful mother. It went beyond just the aesthetic because of what she represented for the Black community and Black women in general. She was the Black mother and professional that many of us knew existed but so many failed to see.

Upon first meeting Sue Beyers as a young professional, I thought she was fiction come to life. Sue is a Seattle native with deep roots in the Central District and the South End (a rare feat). She is a graduate of Garfield High School and followed that up by deepening her education at Evergreen State College and gaining her master’s from Pacific Oaks College.

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