King County, community leaders and youth to identify ways to end racial disparity in juvenile justice system

2014 King County Youth Detention Admissions by Race

2014 King County Youth Detention Admissions by Race

King County Executive Dow Constantine today joined Superior Court Presiding Judge Susan Craighead and members of the King County Council to announce members of a steering committee charged with recommending solutions to a growing racial disparity in the regional juvenile justice system. It is the largest and most diverse group King County has ever assembled to act on juvenile justice issues.

“Racial disparity has no place in our justice system, especially not in a system responsible for the well-being of our youth,” said Executive Constantine. “Making the system impervious to the mostly unacknowledged, but nevertheless real biases that each of us carries with us is a tall order, and will require the partnership of everyone in our community.”

Among the members of the Juvenile Justice Equity Steering Committee are parents, youth, mental-health and grassroots leaders. They are teaming up with the heads of school districts, law enforcement agencies and courts from across the County, including Seattle Police Department Chief Kathleen O’Toole, Highline Public Schools Superintendent Susan Enfield, and Juvenile Court Judge Wesley Saint Clair. The panel includes youth who have experienced juvenile detention themselves, youth mentors, a foster parent and community-based advocates fighting to dismantle the school-to-prison pipeline by increasing effective alternatives to school suspensions and youth detention.

“We need to hold a mirror up to the system and the people who run the system before we even think about changing our youth,” said committee member Dominique Davis, who has helped hundreds of King County youth see their charges dismissed through the 180 Program he coordinates in partnership with the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. “There has to be accountability to stop disproportionality.”

The committee is being asked to develop recommendations for improving the outcomes of school, police, court and detention policies. The group will begin meeting in September to:

  • Establish short- and long-term actions to help end racial disproportionality in King County’s juvenile-justice system
  • Define metrics and create partnerships to improve juvenile justice system
  • Identify root causes of racial disproportionality and specific solutions needed to address them in individual communities
  • Engage communities by sharing information, then collecting and incorporating feedback

Members will eventually host community meetings to engage those most impacted by the juvenile justice system to inform their recommendations.

“It is imperative that this steering committee creates a new paradigm that moves us away from further criminalizing our children – especially youth of color – and moves King County towards creating equitable opportunities for all,” said King County Councilmember Larry Gossett. “Our history consists of watershed moments where it’s been more important for us to change; this is one of those moments.”

Although King County’s youth detention rates have dropped more than 60 percent over the last decade, the proportion of youth of color in detention continues to rise. While only a tenth of the county’s youth population is black, they almost made up half of the youth detention population last year. About three quarters of the overall 2014 detention population were non-white youth.

“There is an urgent need to redefine how the juvenile justice system works. Lasting and effective reform depends on collaborative, community-informed actions to end racial disproportionalities in school discipline, arrest, and detention rates.”

– King County Superior Court Presiding Judge Susan Craighead

We can end the inequities that lead to youth of color being over-represented in our juvenile justice system. I thank the community members who have agreed to be part of this important work, and encourage everyone to learn about and engage in these efforts.

– King County Councilmember Joe McDermott

Most of the kids getting locked up are kids of color. We need to explore why this is occurring and what the county needs to do to ensure fairness at every step of the process.”

– King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove

Juvenile Justice Equity Steering Committee

Law Enforcement

Kathleen O’Toole
Chief, Seattle Police Department

John Urquhart
King County Sheriff

Mike Villa
Chief, Tukwila Police Department

Youth & Parents

Sean Goode
Matt Griffin YMCA Director of Youth and Family Programs, YMCA of Greater Seattle

Georgina Ramirez
Former Youth Development Specialist at the Mockingbird Society
Senior Leadership Development Director, YMCA of Greater Seattle

Jaleel Hayes
Youth

Kadeem McLaurin
Youth

Jaelonie Ayers
Youth

Tess Thomas
Foster parent

Education

Larry Nyland
Superintendent, Seattle Public Schools

Susan Enfield
Superintendent, Highline Public Schools

Calvin J. Watts
Superintendent, Kent School District

Tammy Campbell
Superintendent, Federal Way Public Schools

Kendrick Glover
President, Glover Empower Mentoring Program

Justice Systems

Dan Satterberg
Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, King County

Judge Susan Craighead
Presiding Judge, King County Superior Court

Judge Wesley Saint Clair
Chief Juvenile Court Judge, King County Superior Court

Twyla Carter
Public Defender, King County

Community Leaders

Sorya Svy
Executive Director, SafeFutures

Ricardo Ortega
Political Organizer, LELO (Legacy of Equality, Leadership, and Organizing)

Jacque Larrainzar
LGBTQ Refugee/Immigrant Outreach Specialist, Seattle Counseling Service

Dr. Gary Perry
Sociology Professor, Seattle University

Anne Lee
Executive Director, TeamChild

Joey Gray
Executive Director, United Indians of All Tribes Foundation

Community Involvement

Dominique Davis
Program Coordinator, 180 Program

Natalie Green
State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS)

Dr. Heather Clark
Rainier Scholar, Cultural Anthropologist at University of Washington

Faith

Dr. Edward Donaldson
Pastor, Kingdom Family Worship Center

Benjamin Shabazz
Imam, Muslim community leader

Mental Health

Dr. Eric Trupin
Director and Vice Chair, University of Washington Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences

Roy Fisher
Program Manager, Navos Child Youth and Family Department, Member of Navos Equity and Inclusion Committee

 

For more information and updates on King County’s efforts to reduce its youth detention population, contact Alexa Vaughn at 206-477-9463 or Alexa.Vaughn@kingcounty.gov.