New youth prison to be developed in Seattle

On March 2, protesters linked arms with piping and laid in the intersection of Fourth Avenue and James Street from about 8:00 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. to protest the construction of a new replacement youth jail in Seattle. Approximately three dozen of them began marching north towards Fifth Avenue and Stewart Street, where they stopped and laid down again sttarps and pieces of cardboard in the middle of the street. Protesters blocked the McGraw Square intersection under the monorail until 2:15 p.m., disrupting traffic within the city and causing backups lasting over two hours long.
According to a Seattle Times investigation, Julianna Alson, a spokeswoman for the No New Youth Jail Coalition, said, “Construction of the new jail would be tantamount to a commitment to more youth incarceration, especially among minorities and people of color.” She continued, “We are here today because we’re telling Dow … to cancel the racist youth jail.” Protesters referred to Constantine as the “jailer in chief” who is creating “cages for kids” and chanted, “Dow’s agenda is Trump’s agenda.”
Since then, Dow Constantine’s office has released a statement, claiming their support for alternative programs which seek to keep at-risk youth out of jail, including “alternatives to detention such as Family Intervention and Restorative Services [also known is FIRS] – programs proven to divert youth of color from the justice system and toward supportive programs and mentors,” pointing to the seventy percent decrease in youth jail populations over the past 20 years and the dedication that Constantine has for lowering that statistic even more.
Rachel Smith, chief of staff for Constantine, arrived to speak with protesters at around 2 p.m. Smith gave a statement, saying, “We are committed to zero youth detention, we are committed to a public health approach to juvenile detention and we want to work with all of you in getting there.” Shortly after, the protesters shouted her down, preventing her from speaking further. Similarly, the protesters prevented Smith from speaking with the media by using the same tactics.
In 2012, the county voted on a levy which funded the $210 million necessary for the construction of the replacement facility, which is located on 12th Avenue and East Alder Street in Seattle’s Central Area.
The Seattle times reported that last September King County said it “planned to appeal to the state Supreme Court an appeals-court ruling that found voters were provided flawed language on the funding mechanism when they approved a ballot measure to build the new Children and Family Justice Center,” and is also looking into the legality of the property taxes which, is used to fund the project. “Prop. 1’s ballot title did not expressly authorize the County to levy property taxes based on the increased base tax amount in the first year of the levy.”
Recently the appeals court rejected opponents to the facilities claim, stating that the ballot was clear in describing the purpose of the levy to voters.