Save youth through intervention, not incarceration

We ask King County Executive Dow Constantine to withdraw the permit application for construction of the new youth jail. We ask that he redirect the $210 million into community-based solutions.

YOUTH who are incarcerated versus those who are not for similar crimes are more likely to drop out of school, re-enter the criminal justice system, and experience poverty and homelessness. As future policymakers and public leaders, we pledge to advocate for society’s most vulnerable members.

We are taught to recognize the humanity behind numbers, and that policies and budgets should reflect our core values. King County Executive Dow Constantine has been at the forefront of the effort to build the $210-million juvenile detention center.

The University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, one of the highest-ranking public-affairs programs in the nation, invited Constantine as our commencement speaker on June 8. On a day we should be celebrating, many of us will be sitting in angst as we are sent off to our careers by Constantine, whose stance on the new youth jail does not represent our core values of racial and social justice.

As future public administrators, we are dismayed by the deceptiveness of the 2012 ballot initiative approving the jail, the project’s rampantly inflating budget and its misalignment with the county’s stated goal of zero instances of youth incarceration. As public servants dedicated to fighting for social justice and racial equity, we are outraged at the message this sends to the communities this project purports to help.

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