Tag Archives: juvenile incarceration

OPINION: State Bill Raising Age for Juvenile Prosecution Would Make Seattle Safer

by Luna Reyna, contributing columnist


Brain maturity throughout life was assumed to be largely finished after puberty. A person’s teenage years have been considered a time that a person’s body and mind goes through dramatic change which allows them to transition into self-sufficiency and responsible adulthood. Recent cognitive neuroscience has proven otherwise. From the ages of 18-25 a person’s brain continues to develop in the prefrontal cortex, the area that is responsible for planning, prioritizing, and controlling impulses. With this new understanding, policymakers are reconsidering the ways in which adolescent health and well-being are affected in the criminal legal system.

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Activists Demand Repeal of Laws Requiring Youth Be Tried as Adults in Certain Cases

by Elizabeth Turnbull


Local groups, activists, and some state senators have been pushing against state laws that send youth through adult courts and are calling for systemic change and protections for some of the youngest people in the criminal justice system.

At a virtual panel held Tuesday, March 30, panelists, ranging from activist and attorney Nikkita Oliver, who is currently running for City Council Position 9, Seattle attorney Nick Allen, State Senator Jeannie Darneille, and survivors of the criminal justice system in their youth, specifically addressed a practice known as “automatic decline” or “auto decline.” 

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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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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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Legislation Looks To Change Youth Sentencing, Offer Retroactive Relief

by Bunthay Cheam


A collection of proposed legislation working its way through the Washington State Legislature could substantially change sentencing of young offenders, as well as revise sentences for those currently incarcerated.

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‘The Shadow Beside Me’: Seattle Nonprofit Debuts Poetry From King County Juvenile Detention

by Mark Van Streefkerk 


“You see that I am always getting in trouble

Trouble follows me

like a shadow right behind me, always

You see that I am always in fights

Always rebel fights, arguments

But you don’t know me. I’m not that type of person

I’m really caring, giving

Always trying to help people”

Those are the opening lines to “Josiah,” a poem by 16-year-old Damian, a youth incarcerated at Seattle’s Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC), formerly King County Juvenile Detention. “Josiah” appears in The Shadow Beside Me, a new anthology of poems from youth at CFJC, published by the Pongo Poetry Project. In the poem, Damian writes about how life changed when his friend Josiah was shot and killed. “Josiah was the only person we knew who had graduated / had a job, and had something going for him / When he left, it broke me.” 

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OPINION: Washington State’s Institutional Education is Criminally Underfunded

by Carmen Rivera, MSc


Students sit quietly in a converted classroom, formerly a home economics room furnished with stoves and sinks. The stoves are unplugged, desks and computers are shoved against the old kitchenette spaces. A unit of students sits in front of computers with little instructor involvement. Teachers are largely managing online learning, rather than teaching. The program being used is ‘Edgenuity,’ an online learning and credit recovery provider for students behind in middle/high school credits. 

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