On a teal background, the words CFJC Strategic Plan 2025. King County Logo with Martin Luther King Jr profile in the upper left hand corner.

All young people in King County deserve to thrive and reach their full potential. Yet far too many young people face a criminal legal system that is harmful, punitive, and overwhelmingly targets communities that are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). King County is working to reduce harm and support young people in their communities.

As a centerpiece of our efforts, King County Executive Constantine has pledged to close the secure youth detention facility in King County by 2025. An Advisory Committee made up of community members and other stakeholders will guide and shape this work. Throughout the next two years, the Advisory Committee and county staff will listen and learn from impacted young people and their families, identify opportunities to support community-based alternatives, and lead with racial equity. It will then recommend how the county can close the detention facility and repurpose the space to meet other community-identified needs.  

King County is committed to closing the detention center to address racial disproportionality and reduce harm in the youth legal system. The county took this course to close the detention facility after hearing calls from community leaders. In July 2020, the King County Executive declared racism as a public health crisis and prioritized efforts in the criminal legal system. That followed the 2018 launch of King County’s Zero Youth Detention initiative to create a more equitable legal system for young people. The initiative identified several strategies, which the county is pursuing:

  • Lead with racial equity;

  • Prevent youth from entering into the juvenile legal system;  

  • Divert young people to community-based options;

  • Support young people and their families to reduce the recurrence of legal system involvement; and 

  • Align and optimize connections between system to increase effectiveness. 

Black youth and other youth of color are overrepresented in detention. Black youth, for example, represented 10% of youth in King County but accounted for 51% of the young people in secure detention in 2021. In comparison, white youth made up nearly half of youth in King County but accounted for only 17% of the young people in secure detention that same year. 

As shown in the figures below, these disparities are getting worse, despite successful efforts to reduce the number of young people in detention. Between 2010 and 2021, the number of young people in secure detention declined by 75%. In 2021, the average number of young people in detention was 22 young people, down from 89 in 2010.

REIMAGINING YOUTH JUSTICE

We can build something better, together. We think a more just and accountable alternative can support young people who would otherwise be in detention.

The reimagination of youth justice is not simply about closing a physical detention space. It's about expanding the range of community-based alternatives to meet the needs of our young people without removing them from their families and communities.

It's about upholding community safety, especially in communities most affected by violence. It's about moving forward anti-racist and pro-equity policies. 

In the end, closing the detention facility and reducing harm in the youth legal system promises to support a path to greater public safety and accountability for all King County communities. It will build on other county efforts, such as Best Starts for Kids and Zero Youth Detention, to promote community safety and well-being for all our young people.  

Ultimately, ending secure youth detention in King County will take all of us working together to get the very best outcomes for our young people.

Ready to get started? Click on the tabs above to take a short survey, learn about the Advisory Committee, and see what we are learning.

Join the Advisory Committee meetings

The next meeting is on July 18, 2022 over Zoom. Click the "Advisory Committee" tab to learn more about the meeting and find notes from previous meetings.

Learn more about the project

Check out a summary document of the project. 

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Share your input on what's needed to better support young people

Take a short survey (click here). 

Learn about the project timeline

This project will take place in five key phases:

live
live
Phase 1: Project Roll-Out

January - June 2022

planned
planned
Phase 2: Community Listening & Learning

July - December 2022

planned
planned
Phase 3: Community Strategy Development

January - September 2023

planned
planned
Phase 4: Strategy Implementation

October 2023 - 2024

planned
planned
Phase 5: Transition to Closure

2025

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If you have comments or questions about the strategic planning project to close youth detention by 2025, please contact: 

Emily Johnson, Project Manager 

Phone: 855-925-2801; project code: 9948

Email: [email protected]